Georgia State and Abilene Christian kicked off the 2014 FBS Foobtall Season with a back-and-forth game that wasn't decided until the final 7 seconds of the 4th quarter.
Abilene Christian was able to move the ball very easily through the air all night, but had several drives still in the Panther Red-Zone. Because of the Wildcat inability to finish drives with touchdowns they were down 21-16 at the half. The Wildcat TD in the first half came from 60 yards out. All drives that entered the 20 ended in field goals. Wildcat running back Herschel Sims was unable to break any runs of distance, and left the game in the third quarter with an injury. This might have been the reason they were unable to pay off drives with touchdowns.
Georgia State committed 3 turnovers, but their defense was able to limit the Abilene drives off of turnovers to 3 points. The Panthers also committed 13 penalties for 99 yards- many of these extended Wildcat drives that eventually ended in points.
In the third quarter Abilene Christian scored 14 unanswered points to go up by nine points. Parker McKenzie made an ill-advised throw to the middle of the field that was intercepted by Joseph Peterson and return into Wildcat territory. Georgia State scored 4 plays later to make it a two point game. The team would then trade long 9 and 10 play touchdown drives.
The last Wildcat drive stalled and the team had a 4th and 1 at midfield. The team decided to punt, but an illegal formation and a roughing the kicker penalty caused the play to be replayed. The coaching staff again chose to punt, rather than try to pickup the 1 yard. The Panthers then converted two 4th down conversions- including one 4th and 19 with under a minute to go in the game- extend their final drive. Nick Arbuckle then ran on back-to-back plays- for 13 and 17 yards- that made the game winning field goal by Wil Lutz a chip shot to win the game 38-37.
Both Georgia State's Nick Arbuckle and Abilene Christians' Parker McKenzie threw for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. Arbuckle showed off impressive arm strength on several long passes, included at 58 yard touchdown pass that was called back due to a holding penalty. Early in the game Georgia State used screen passes to ease Arbuckle into the game. On Georgia State's second drive Arburckle faked a screen pass and went deep to Joel Ruiz for the first touchdown of the year in FBS football.
Georgia State had a much more efficient running game, but an early injury to Krysten Hammon appeared to change the style of play for the Panthers. They were later forced to pass to try to comeback from the 9 point deficit. The Georgia State secondary struggled in this game- committing passing interference penalties and allowing receivers to run uncovered. The defensive line and linebackers were able to get pressure and sack or flush McKenzie from the pocket throughout the night. Jarrell Robinson and Joseph Peterson were able to find and tackle the ball carrier.
The win snaps a 16 game losing streak for Georgia State dating back to 2012. This was the school's first win as an FBS team. Their next game is Saturday September 6th against New Mexico State a game which Georgia State should have a good chance of winning.