CCU falls in Sun Belt home opener

CCU falls in Sun Belt home opener

Story courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics

CONWAY – Georgia State returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and scored late in the fourth quarter to secure a 27-21 victory over Coastal Carolina Saturday night at Brooks Stadium.

Conner Manning completed 18-of-30 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown. His top target was Penny Hart, who caught eight passes for 132 yards and a score.

For Coastal, Tyler Keane was 18-of-26 passing for 239 yards with three touchdowns. That gives the senior seven TD passes over his last two games.

Georgia State's Glenn Smith took the opening kickoff and, while appearing to be stopped around the 25 yard line, bounced to the outside and out-ran the coverage unit for a 90-yard touchdown and quick 7-0 lead.

Coastal marched back down the field, but missed a 21-yard field goal. The Panthers' Manning, who was 19-for-19 for 164 yards in the first half, completed passes of 14, 20, 8, 15 and yards to get the CCU eight yard line. Two plays later, Manning threw a shovel pass to Penny Hart for a seven-yard score and 14-0 advantage.

Midway through the second quarter, the Chanticleers got on track and cut their deficit in half, 14-7. Tyler Keane completed five passes, including a 33-yard score to Omar Black. The grab was Black's first career touchdown as well as a career long reception.

Georgia State regained a 14-point lead with 2:26 left in the first half. The Panthers took advantage of two CCU penalties and a 17-yard Manning-to-Tamir Jones completion to get in scoring range. Kyler Neal capped the nine-play drive that consumed 4:23 with a three-yard rushing TD.

As the first half expired, the Panthers tired a Hail Mary pass that Fitz Wattley intercepted and returned 37 yards for CCU's first interception of the season.

While Georgia State led 21-7 at the break, the Panthers only held a six-yard advantage in total yards (181-to-175) and only had 17 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

Like Coastal in the first half and on the same side of the field, Georgia State got inside the 10 yard line, but was forced to kick a field goal. Thanks in part to a bad snap, the kick sailed wide right to keep the point failed score 21-7.

After a short GSU punt midway through the fourth quarter, Coastal only needed four plays to cover 48 yards and make it a one possession game. Keane started the drive with a 22-yard completion to Chris Jones and later picked up 16 yards on a keeper. He then connected with Ky'Jon Tyler on a five-yard TD to make the score 21-14.

The Panthers bounced back to take a 27-14 lead with 3:01 left in the game. After a 52-yard Manning to Ari Werts pass, Georgia State needed just four more plays for Demarcus Kirk to score from four yards out. The extra point failed to keep it a 13-point game.

Coastal quickly answered, using just 1:11 to cover 80 yards. Keane hit Malcolm Williams for 25 yards then found Chris Jones for 45 yards to the GSU five. On the next play, Larry Collins Jr. caught his first career TD, a five-yard pass from Keane. The extra point cut the CCU deficit to six, 27-21.

The Chanticleers tried an on-side kick. But Georgia State recovered, converted a third down and was able to run out the clock.

Coastal Carolina will return to action nest Saturday for the first of two consecutive road games with a contest at Arkansas State on Oct. 14 (Sat.). Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm (CT)/7:30 pm (ET).