Peterson Runs Falcons Streak to Four

Adrian Peterson spoiled the Falcons bid to put an end to their three-game losing streak rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings 20-10 victory at the Georgia Dome.

Blazers Thrown to the Wolves

Valdosta State and West Georgia ruined every hint of truth in the quote “familiarity breeds contempt”. Having played each other three times in the last 365 days, the pair gained respect for the other rather than losing it. The Blazers came into today’s contest with a solid game plan but it was not enough as the Wolves advance to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA Division 2 playoffs with a 27-20 victory.

Being in the same conference teams get to know each other well. Valdosta State and West Georgia have gotten to know each other better than either wants to admit. The Wolves have defeated the Blazers three consecutive times including twice in the playoffs. In their first meeting back in October, the Wolves lit up the Blazers by a score of 49-28.

When the Wolves offense got their hands on the ball for the second time, it was as if they had stepped back in time. Quarterback Dallas Dickey guided the Wolves through the Blazers defense for the first score of the day and the last.

Valdosta State trailed by 10 until the defense stepped up in a big way. Senior defensive back Peter Tulloch delivered a huge hit to the chest of West Georgia receiver Qa Walker just as the pass from Dickey arrived. Tulloch’s hit knocked the ball up and into the hands of senior linebacker Kenny Murphy. The 240-pounder turned it on, rolling through potential tacklers and down the sideline for a 79-yard touchdown.

The Blazers offense posted the next batch of points on the scoreboard with a 58-yard scoring drive. It was an efficient drive, only three of the thirteen plays failed to produce positive yardage. Senior quarterback Eric Hilliard completed the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Will Johnson.

West Georgia’s defense added a score to open up the fourth sacking Hilliard in the end zone for a safety. Defensive end Demarcus Davis wrapped up Hilliard as he stepped up to attempt a pass.

Another turnover by West Georgia produced 6 more points for the Blazers. Defensive back Raymond Palmer stripped the ball from the arms of Wolves running back Devontae Jackson at the West Georgia 25. The Blazers took advantage of the short field aided in part by a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Hilliard didn’t waste another down fired a bulls-eye between the numbers of running back Cedric O’Neal in the end zone.

O’Neal’s touchdown gave the Blazers a slim 20-19 lead. The lead lasted all of three minutes until Dickey and Jackson went back to work. Both went over the 100-yard mark combining for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Dickey’s 9-yard touchdown run capped the 72-yard drive and ended the Blazers season.

The Wolves will host Tuskegee next Saturday. The sixth-seeded Golden Tigers, a 35-31 winner over North Alabama, lost to the Wolves 20-17 in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.



Three Times a Charm for Panthers

Winning has become vogue for Georgia State as the Panthers dusted off the Trojans of Troy 31-21 and kept their bowl eligibility hopes alive.

As insane as it may sound, Georgia State is one game away from the all-important sixth win that is a prerequisite for consideration by the bowl selection committees. Should Georgia State get a bowl game while Georgia Tech sits at home, things could get a little testy around the City of Atlanta.

But wait, before anyone starts dreaming and making travel plans remember the Panthers last game is against Georgia Southern. The same Georgia Southern that rolled up to Athens and gave the Bulldogs all they wanted in regulation before running out of gas in overtime. It also the same Eagles team that skinned the Panthers for 69 points while simultaneously unfurling a banner that laid claim to being the one true GSU. There can be only one. Not really, but it was a really cool movie line in The Highlander.

What makes this season finale special is the marked turnaround the Panthers have enjoyed over the past few weeks. After winning two games (both on the road) through the first eight weeks, the Panthers have reeled off three in a row including their first and second wins at home.

The short week of rest actually helped the Panthers who had started to put things together in the fourth quarter last Saturday against South Alabama. That energy certainly carried over in today’s game against Troy.

Senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle connected on 5 of 6 passes to move the offense down the field. Tight end Keith Rucker, who had one heck of a game with 10 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown, took one of the passes for a 39-yard trip down to the Trojans 14 yard line. Freshman receiver Penny Hart took another pass from Arbuckle in for the score and a 7-0 lead.

Blanked in the first fifteen, Troy finally answered the challenge with their own pitch and catch for six. Senior wide receiver Teddy Ruben took a short pass, shook off Sun Belt Player of the Week senior safety Tarris Batiste, eluded Bobby Baker, and flat out ran the rest of the defense for a 58-yard touchdown.

The score must have awakened the predatory instincts in the Panthers. Six plays later Glenn Smith was standing in the end zone having ripped off a 39-yard jaunt. “It was a zone play, and I just saw the hole and hit it. I trusted my linemen and just hit it,” said Smith of the run.

Georgia State’s defense gave the ball back to the offense two-and-a-half minutes later. With three minutes remaining to the half, Arbuckle guided the Panthers down to the goal line but no further. Will Lutz salvaged the drive and ended the half knocking through the field goal from 30 yards out.

More big plays by the Panthers decorated the opening quarter of the second half. Again it was Arbuckle over the top, only this time he hit wide receiver Robert Davis in stride at the 16. Davis cruised in for the score.



Maroon Tigers Hold On Defeat Wolves in Hoops Track Meet

ayinde_mhcTuesday night’s hoops battle between West Georgia and Morehouse showed two things, there is some good college basketball being played in the state and there are some quality players at the D2 level. The Wolves and Maroon Tigers battled nearly every possession for 40 full minutes until a rebounded missed free throw with 4.5 seconds remaining sealed the game for Morehouse.

West Georgia jumped out to their largest lead of the game on a triple by Iakeem Alston. The senior guard from Baltimore, MD, finished with 12 points and 5 assists on the day and played a pivotal role in the final minutes.

Tough interior defense allowed Morehouse to hold the line until the offense came around and evened the score on a three-pointer from an unlikely shooter, 6’-10” center Michael Hall. Hall transferred before the start of the 2014-15 season from Harvard.

and1layup_uwgThe former prep star out of Woodward Academy- Atlanta, Hall played major minutes (37) against the explosive four-guard Wolves line-up. “It’s been good coming into the system fully healthy and working out with the team all of that has helped get my confidence going,” said Hall. The center finished with 3 blocks and one rebound short of a double-double. His ability to step out and knock down jumpers as well as defend the rim drew praise from legendary basketball coach Ron ‘Fang’ Mitchell. “He can play,” said Mitchell.

Morehouse took its first lead on a layup by Hall and never relinquished it. With senior guard Steph Branch getting a breather, the Maroon Tigers pushed the lead to 10 on back-to-back threes by Ayinde Russell. The freshman guard from nearby Tucker High School led the team in scoring with 24 points on 6-12 shooting from behind the arc.

West Georgia picked up the defense pressuring the young Maroon Tigers backcourt the length of the court. Surprisingly, Head Coach Grady Brewer’s backcourt held up against the experienced Wolves. Senior Javarius Gay played 26 minutes, chipped in 10 points, and helped steady the two freshmen and two sophomore rotation in the three guard line-up.

The lead remained at least 8 until a jumper by Branch followed by the senior’s monster dunk cut the lead to 4 as the game clock ticked below one minute. Sophomore guard Tyrius Walker had an opportunity to push the lead back to six but connected on only one of his two free throws to finish with 13 points and 6 assists.

Down three after a layup by senior guard Deontre Brown, Coach Cooney called a time-out to set up the full-court pressure. The time-out gave Coach Brewer time to talk to his squad about what needed to happen. “I told them don’t foul, make them drive but stay in front of them, make them make a play in front of you,” said Brewer. “We did not do it. We fouled and let them drive.”

alumsA turnover by Gay wound up in the hands of Keron Briggs on the baseline. Briggs absorbed the contact from Walker and got the layup to go and brought the West Georgia bench to its feet. The layup set up a potentially game-tying free throw but Briggs shot caromed off the rim and into the hands of Gay. The senior from the Chi knocked down both free throws and ultimately secured the win for the Maroon Tigers.

“We missed a lot of key free throws, one-and-one’s and despite all of our faults we are still there at the end,” said Head coach Michael Cooney.



Panthers Clinch First Home Win

There’s nothing like winning at home. Getting your first win at home on the tenth game of the season is extra savory. The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the South Alabama Jaguars 24-10.

Wins have been hit and miss (mostly miss) for the five-year-old program. After having defeated Texas State in week 9, Saturday’s win marks the first time the Panthers have won consecutive games this season. “It’s good for them to get the monkey off their back and get a home win,” said Head Coach Trent Miles.

Georgia State needed the win and forego the angst of having to wait until their last home game of the season to get it. The game started off all Jags. For a few minutes, at least, it looked as if the panthers were in for another long day of watching the opposition score. The Jags returned the opening kick 69 yards to the Panthers 31 and followed it up with a 17-yard touchdown run by Tyreis Thomas four plays later.

The prognosis looked good for the Jags and then reality set in, or should I say the Panthers defense dug in. Georgia State kept the Jags offense in check and on their side of the 50 for the next two possessions. Penalties aided the Jags third possession. A 15-yard penalty on safety Bryan Williams, turned a 24-yard pass from senior and former UAB starter Cody Clements to Marvin Shinn into a 39 yard gain to the Panthers 38 yard line. Safety Bobby Baker’s face mask penalty gave the Jags first and goal at the 7. The Panthers defense stiffened pushing the South Alabama offense backward to the 14 and forced a fourth and goal.

Let it be known that USA Head Coach Joey Jones is a gamer. Last season, Jones’ squad fell behind Bowling Green 27-14 in the third quarter of the inaugural Camellia Bowl and battled back to take a 28-27 lead in the fourth. Although the Jags wound up losing the game on a 78-yard touchdown pass in the last 80 seconds, Jones’ ability to get his team ready for battle was confirmed.

Jones dipped into his bag of tricks on fourth down and caught everyone in the Dome off guard. Kicker Aleem Sunanon faked the field goal attempt and lofted a beautiful spiral into the hands of a wide open receiver Josh Magee. The touchdown was nullified seconds later because of an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Jags. Penalties giveth and they taketh away.

The penalty also wiped away the University of Alabama-Birmingham transfer’s only reception of the game. Magee was one of 12 former Blazers on the field. Eight former players suited up for the Jags including starters Cody Clements, Cameron Blankenship, Gerald Everett, Kalen Jackson and D.J. Vinson. Georgia State picked up four of the departed Blazers of which only safety Bobby Baker starts.

South Alabama settled for a field goal but the energy from the defensive stand charged up the Panthers offense. Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle led the Panthers on its longest drive of the game capping it with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The game was won at the start of the third quarter. Georgia State dominated the clock allowing the Jags only one possession and that was limited to 4 plays. “Obviously, they took over offensively and scored 17 points, and they had long drives where they kept the ball,” said Jones. Georgia State’s first drive of the second half led to a game-tying 26-yard field goal by Will Lutz. Their second scoring drive of the half started in the third quarter and finished in the fourth with a 1-yard touchdown run by UAB transfer Demarcus Kirk.

Another short series of downs for South Alabama gave way to the Panthers final score of the game. Arbuckle went to the air five consecutive times completing three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Neither team threatened to score over the game’s last 9 minutes giving the Panthers their first home win of the season. They will try for three in a row on the Friday after Thanksgiving as the Trojans of Troy roll into town looking to improve upon their 2-4 Sunbelt Conference record (3-7 overall). The Trojans are coming off a 45-10 drubbing at the hands of Georgia Southern. The Panthers will face the GSU Eagles in Statesboro in the season finale.



Territorial Cup Moves to Tempe

In the 116th meeting between Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, the Sun Devils reclaimed the Territorial Cup with a 52-37 victory over the Wildcats. Although both teams hadn’t met the expectations set at the beginning of the season, they each had stakes on the line. Aside from bragging rights to the famed Territorial Cup, ASU (5-5) looked to achieve bowl eligibility, and Arizona (6-5) looked to make it 2 in a row over the Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils took an early lead against their heated rivals, sputtered midway through, then ran away from the Wildcats.

ASU’s Mike Bercovici threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in his final home game. “This is what you dream about when you decide to be a Sun Devil,” Bercovici said after completing 21 of 32 passes with an interception.

Down 31-10 at halftime, backup quarterback Brandon Dawkins mounted a second-half comeback to put the Wildcats back within one possession, but Dawkins’s heroics ended on a pick-six interception that pushed ASU’s lead to 45-30 with 3:33 to go. Another pick-six for the Devils by Lloyd Carrington all but sealed the Wildcats fate. Dawkins was under pressure again and took a brutal hit as he threw the ball.

By picking up its 6th win of the season, Arizona State became the Pac-12’s ninth bowl-eligible team. A strong showing against Cal would go a long way in strengthening the Sun Devils post-season Bowl standings.

As for the Wildcats, they finally get their bye week. The loss to ASU marked the end of their regular season. A year which saw them competing for 12 consecutive weeks. Even after an up and down season, and subsequently relinquishing the Territorial Cup to their rivals from up North, they do get a bowl game and some much-needed rest and recovery time to prepare for it.



Quinn Field Goal Decision Backfires

Being a head coach in the NFL means making tough decisions in crunch time that may win or lose a ball game. For Falcons rookie coach Dan Quinn, his decision to kick a field goal instead of going for a touchdown allowed the San Francisco 49ers to escape with a 1-point 17-16 win at Levi […]

Panthers Lose Winnable Game

The Dome hasn’t felt like Home to Georgia State as the Panthers fall to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette 23-21. Georgia State hasn’t tasted victory at home since their 38-37 win over Abilene Christian on August 27, 2014.

“Play calling,” shouted an unidentified player as he stormed into the Georgia State locker room. A few expletives followed, from him and a few other players, as the overwhelming disappointment of losing a completely winnable game due to a brain fart by the coaching staff settled in. The Panthers led 21-20 through the first alternating possessions of the fourth quarter before a series of circumstances resulted in yet another home loss.

Early on, neither defense seemed to be able to stop the opposition as the pair combined for 697 yards of offense. What stopped the offenses were self-inflicted wounds. The peppery red Ragin’ Cajuns helmets were a magnet for the yellow officials’ hankies. Louisiana-Lafayette was penalized 12-126 yards on the day. “It just seemed like every call was going against us today, and we found a way to overcome those things and made plays when we had to,” said ULL Head Coach Mark Hudspeth.

The Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t overcome their wounds as much as the Panthers gift-wrapped the game for them. Stopped after three downs on the Panthers second possession, the wheels came off the cart. Punter/kicker Will Lutz, who already had one punt blocked and recovered by the Ragin’ Cajuns in the end zone, tried to avoid the pressure by mimicking an Australian Rules football drop kick.

The attempt went horribly awry traveling only 30 yards. Elijah McGuire alertly scooped up the tumbling pigskin and returned it to the Panthers 41. Fortunately, for Georgia State penalties on both teams nullified the play giving Lutz another chance to punt it deep. Well, that didn’t happen. Rather than lofting one of his trademark boomers to the upper stratosphere inside the Dome, Lutz rolled out. Not to punt but to pass. The pass fell into the hands of Tevin Jones who was knocked out of bounds at the Panthers 23 four yards short of the first down marker. It mattered little because Jones, a defensive end, was flagged for illegal touching by an ineligible receiver.

Louisiana-Lafayette celebrated the short field opportunity but couldn’t get any farther than the Panthers 5 yard line. Rather than pressing the luck button, the Ragin’ Cajuns settled for a 21-yard go-ahead field goal from Stevie Artigue that turned out to be the game-winner.

Panthers Head Coach Trent Miles accepted blame for the miscue that cost his team the game. “We have a play when we punt to roll out to keep away from pressure and they had already blocked one for a touchdown,” said Miles. “We were supposed to punt the ball and we did not punt the ball, so that’s my fault for not making sure that I communicated well enough that if they gave the look they gave, we have to punt the ball.”

Georgia State falls to 2-6 and will go on the road to play Texas State next Saturday. The Bobcats defeated the Panthers 51-34 in the 2014 season finale. The Panthers have two more chances to get a win this season at the Dome.


Miscues Hinder Falcons Effort

For the fourth consecutive week, the Falcons offense has shot itself in the foot with multiple turnovers and untimely penalties as Atlanta allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to escape the Georgia Dome with a 23-20 win in overtime.