Press release courtesy of Harry Minium, ODUSports.com
ATLANTA, Ga. – Shorn of much of its depth by injuries, Old Dominion’s defense could not stop Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger, the offense could not move the ball with any consistency and the Monarchs lost a game they really needed to win.
Grainger passed for 195 yards and ran for another 109 as the Panthers beat the Monarchs, 31-17 Saturday afternoon on a cool, blustery day at Center Parc Stadium.
The Monarch offense put together just one sustained drive, gained just 25 yards in the third quarter and had only 26 yards on the ground. Quarterback Hayden Wolff was sacked six times
It was the second loss in a row for ODU (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt), which now must win three of its last four games to become bowl eligible.
Georgia State improved to 3-5 and 2-2 in the Sun Belt.
Cornerback Tre Hawkins III, who blocked a field goal and recovered a fumble, said coach Ricky Rahne made spoke shortly but bluntly to the team after the game.
“He basically just said that’s not who we are,” Hawkins said, speaking of the performance against Georgia State.
“He told us we’ve got a chance to chance to attack the day tomorrow or lay around and sew and reap. We can attack the day or lay around and cry about it.
“We still control our destiny.”
ODU had some key players missing, especially on defense. Tight end Zack Kuntz missed his third consecutive game. Offensive lineman Tyran Hunt was also out while on defense, linemen Amorie Morrison and Devin Brandt-Epps and linebacker Ryan Henry did not play.
Rahne would not use that as an excuse.
“That’s football,” he said. “They had some guys down too. When you get to the eighth, ninth and tenth game of the year, you’re going to have to have developed players. You’re going to have to play with some guys who didn’t play as much earlier in the year.”
Because ODU generated so little offense, the Monarch defense spent nearly two thirds of the game on the field.
Grainger led Georgia State to two first-half touchdowns with 173 passing and 34 rushing yards, and it might have been worse had not Tre Hawkins III recovered a fumble at the ODU 7 and blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt.
Grainger, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior, who played two seasons at Furman before transferring to Georgia State, quickly asserted control in the third quarter, with a little help from the Monarchs.
The Monarchs ran into punter Michael Hayes on fourth and two five minutes into the second half and that kept alive a drive that would end after 80 yards with the go-ahead touchdown.
Grainger kept the drive alive with runs of 15 and 17 yards, and then ran a yard for the touchdown with five minutes left in the third quarter and Georgia State led, 21-14.
Wolff was then sacked and fumbled at the Monarch 11, and it took Georgia State just one play, an 11-yard jaunt by tailback Marcus Carroll, to give the Panthers a 28-14 lead.
After again forcing ODU to punt, the Panthers drained nearly 10 minutes off the clock and made it 31-14 on a 26-yard field by Michael Hayes with 6:20 left.
Thanks in large part by a 54-yard pass from Wolff to Harvey, ODU finally scored in the second half when Ethan Sanchez booted a 40-yarder with 4:51 left.
ODU then tried an on-side kick recovered which was recovered by Georgia State. A final ODU drive was snuffed out by an interception by Georgia State’s Justin Abraham. The interception snapped Wolff’s streak of passes without an interception at 132.
ODU took an early 7-0 lead on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Harvey on what would be the longest offensive play of the game.
ODU’s defense killed one Georgia State drive in the red zone when Robert Kennedy III forced a fumble that was recovered by Hawkins. But ODU’s offense could not move the ball and a Tallique Williams 28-yard punt return set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Tucker Gregg.
Georgia State then retook the lead on a well-designed play in which Grainger, while on the run around his right end, threw to an open Jamari Thrash, who ambled into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown.
Minutes later, ODU drove 75 yards in seven plays, with Wolff finding Ali Jennings III on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 7:15 left in the first half to tie the score at 14.
Georgia State appeared poised to retake the lead, driving from its 32 to the ODU 22 before a drive stalled. Hawkins again came up big again, blocking an attempted 38-yard field goal with 1:51 left.
But in the second half, Georgia State outgained ODU 166-66.
Rahne said the problem Saturday wasn’t effort or motivation.
“Technique was might have been an issue,” he said. “The guys played with effort. They just didn’t have the technique.
“But we need every single guy in our organization to respond this week in practice and have the best practice of their lives.”
ODU closes out the home portion of its schedule the next two weeks, hosting Marshall at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 and then James Madison on Nov. 12. The JMU game is already a sellout.