ATLANTA — After a slow start, No. 25 ranked Appalachian State defeated Georgia State 56-27 Saturday night at Georgia State Stadium.
With the win, the Mountaineers (9-1, 5-1) are one step closer to clinching a spot in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game.
Meanwhile for Georgia State (6-4, 3-3 Sun Belt), this was the first time in program history that the team hosted a Top 25 ranked opponent. The Panthers will host South Alabama next weekend in their last home game of the season.
For the Panthers, quarterback Dan Ellington, who played on a torn ACL, went 12-for-27 for 88 yards and one touchdown. Destin Coates rushes for 98 yards on seven carries and Tra Barnett had 91 yards on 17 carries. Tucker Gregg had two carries for 20 yards and one touchdown.
Receiver Devin Gentry caught four passes for 32 yards and one touchdown and Cadarrius Thompson had one catch for 34 yards.
The Panthers took the lead at the beginning of the game when Ellington completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Gentry. The score by Gentry capped off a nine-play, 84 yard drive that lasted 3:01 minutes.
Appalachian State would quickly answer with a score of their own when Corey Sutton caught a 12-yard pass from Zac Thomas three minutes later.
With the Panthers back on offense, Coates broke away for a 67 yard run down the middle of the field and gave Georgia State a 14-7 lead with 2:21 left in the first.
Moments later, App State’s Thomas was picked off by Chris Bacon, who ran the ball into the endzone for a 34-yard pick six and a 21-7 Georgia State lead just before the end of the first.
But with nine seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Mountaineers would score once again when Sutton caught his second touchdown pass of the night, this time, a 20 yarder.
In the second quarter, it became all about the Mountaineers, as the team from North Carolina scored on three out of five possessions. Meanwhile for the Panthers, the team had possession of the ball five times in the second quarter, three of those possessions ended in punts. The other two ended in turnovers, with one of them being a pick-six.
Midway through the second quarter, Thomas rushed for a 3-yard score and tied the game at 21 points. After a 30-yard pick-six by Shaun Jolly, App State took its first lead of the game at 28-21 with 2:18 remaining in the first half.
Before the end of the half, Jolly intercepted Ellington for a second time and the Mountaineers offense drove down the field once again for another score. This time, a 1-yard pass from Thomas to Darrynton Evans for a 35-21 lead.
After a high scoring first half, the third quarter’s only score when App State’s Darrynton Evans rushed for a 29-yard touchdown towards the end of the quarter. The score by Evans capped off a 4-play, 73 yard drive for the Mountaineers, thus giving his team a 42-21 lead.
In the first play of the fourth quarter, Sutton caught his third touchdown of the night, a 24 yard reception. The score by Sutton increased the Mountaineers’ lead to 49-21.
Minutes later, Raykwon Anderson added another score for Appalachian State, a 5-yard rushing score.
Just before the end of the game, Tucker Gregg would score for the Panthers one last time as he rushed for a 20-yard touchdown. The touchdown by Gregg was the Panther’s first score since the first quarter.