Nov. 6, 2010
ATLANTA - Lamar University's attempt at a second fourth-quarter comeback ended Saturday afternoon on the game's final play as Danny Williams batted down a Doug Prewitt pass intended for J.J. Hayes in the end zone to preserve Georgia State's 23-17 victory over the Cardinals.
Earlier in the final period, backup cornerback Ryan Clark intercepted a Georgia State pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown to put the rallying Cardinals up 17-13, but the Panthers retaliated with a 71-yard drive capped by a clutch 2-yard pass from quarterback Drew Little to tight end Arthur Williams to retake the lead.
The Georgia Dome crowd of 14,689 also saw Prewitt put on a good show in his starting debut, and Octavious Logan become Lamar's single-season kickoff return leader. The junior transfer from East Mississippi Community College returned five kickoffs for 110 yards to improve his season total to 661 yards on 28 returns.
Logan, who shattered Herbert Harris' 1982 record of 566 yards, also led the Cardinals' rushing attack with 56 yards on seven carries, including a long run of 22 yards.
Prewitt, a freshman from Beaumont Kelly was subbing for starter Andre Bevil, who suffered a sprained right wrist in the Cardinals' 31-6 loss at North Dakota the previous week. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Prewitt threw his first collegiate touchdown pass -- a 13-yarder to split end J.J. Hayes -- and finished the game with 19 completions on 36 attempts for 273 yards.
"I'm not happy with the way the game started by us getting down by 10 points against this bunch (the Panthers)," said Ray Woodard, Lamar's head coach. "I am very proud of the way we fought back after that, and I'm proud of the way we fought in the second half.
"I thought we improved as a football team today. This was the kind of improvement I was looking for in Week 2 or Week 3, but with the type of effort we gave, I wish we could've won the game."
Hayes paced the Cardinals' receiving corps by grabbing seven passes for a career-high 138 yards, while Josh Powdrill and Marcus Jackson had four catches eacy - Powdrill for 50 yards and Jackson for 48.
In leading the Panthers to their sixth victory in 10 outings in the first season of GSU's football program, Little connected on 22 of 35 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring strikes went for 8 yards to wide receiver Sidney Hayes and 2 yards to Arthur Williams.
The Panthers also received six-catch performances from Danny Williams and Albert Wilson, and Iain Vance accounted for their other scoring with field goals of 33, 47 and 29 yards.
The loss, Lamar's third in a row, dropped the Cardinals to 3-6 on the season, while the Panthers improved to 6-4.
"Doug got better as the game went on," said Woodard of Prewitt. "His confidence rose, and I thought he did a very good job under the circumstances of this being his very first start (in college).
"His composure was impressive, but when he did make a bad play, he showed a little maturity out there. After he threw the interception (in the fourth quarter), he came back and played well."
Haynes reeled off a 62-yard run - longest in Georgia State history - on the game's first play from scrimmage, gaining the Lamar 5-yard line. Two penalties, a 1-yard loss and a pair of incompletions forced the Panthers into a fourth-and-goal from the 16, and they elected to go for Vance's 33-yard field goal that opened the scoring with 11:59 left in the first quarter.
Logan's 22-yard return of the ensuing kickoff moved him past Harris as the Cardinals' all-time, single-season kickoff returner. Harris had 566 kickoff return yards in 1982.
A Lamar three-and-out and Jordan Giles' block of Kollin Kahler's punt returned the ball to the Panthers on cornerback Justin Hughes' recovery at the 6-yard line. Three plays later, the Panthers had their first touchdown of the afternoon on Little's 8-yard pass to Haynes in the back of the end zone.
The Cardinals' first positive push on offense came on their third possession when Prewitt completions of 15 yards to Hayes and 21 yards to Jackson moved them into Panther territory for the first time. An 8-yard loss on a fumble by Kwabena Asante, however eventually forced the Cards into a punting situation, and a fake punt run by Kahler on fourth-and 17 netted only three yards.
The Cardinals held the Panthers to a three-and-out, but were unable to take advantage of it as they wound up punting on the final play of the first quarter, leaving the score at 10-0 Panthers.
The Panthers drove from their 25-yard line to the Cardinals' 17 before stalling on their first possession of the second quarter. Vance's 34-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Prewitt's third-down completions of nine yards to Powdrill and 41 yards to Hayes highlighted the Cardinals' 11-play, 76-yard drive to set up Justin Stout's 21-yard field goal to cut the Panther lead to 10-3 with 5:14 left in the half.
Logan ripped off a 22-yard run on a draw play to ignite the Cardinals' valiant effort to notch a tying touchdown before the end of the second quarter. On third-and-one from the Panther 46-yard-line, Prewitt hooked up with Hayes for a 20-yard gain, but with time running out the Cardinals had to settle for a 39-yard field goal attempt by Stout, and it sailed wide left with three second remaining in the half.
Little completed all five of his passes on the Panthers' first possession of the second half, but the Cardinal defense eventually stiffened and forced the 47-yard Vance field goal that padded GSU's lead to 13-3 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals came up empty-handed on both of their third-quarter possessions and never advanced past the Panthers' 39-yard-line.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, a short Panther punt was downed at the 1-yard line, putting the Cardinals in a huge hole. They began clawing their way out of it on an 11-yard run by Logan, and moments later Prewitt connected with Hayes for a 39-yard gain to put them in Panther territory.
Subsequent back-to-back passes of 18 yards to Powdrill and 2 yards to Asante moved the ball into the red zone, and Prewitt completed the 99-yard drive on its eighth play - the 13-yard, over-the-middle pass to Hayes to slice the Panther lead to 13-10 with 9:50 left.
Sixteen seconds later, the Cardinals seized the lead on Clark's interception of Little's first-down pass and 54-yard streak down the far sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Panthers retaliated with a Little-led drive of 71 yards on 10 plays to retake the lead. Along the way, Little completed five of six passes, and Travis Evans had first-down runs of 17 and 13 yards. The payoff was the 2-yard play-action pass to the big (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) tight end (Arthur Williams) with 4:35 remaining.
Cornerback Jamal Ramsey quelled the Cardinals' hopes of pulling off another rally by intercepting a Prewitt pass and returning it 20 yards to set up Vance's 29-yard field goal for the game's final points.
The Cardinals will now close their 2010 with a two-game homestand in 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium. First up will be the University of South Dakota for a 6 p.m. game on Nov. 13, and the finale will be against Oklahoma Panhandle State on Nov. 20