Homecoming 2015 ended disappointedly for the Georgia State University Panthers after falling to Liberty University 41-33 at the Georgia Dome Oct. 3.
The Panthers defense started the game strong with a forced fumble. Liberty running back Stephon Masha was running towards the end zone when safety Tarris Batiste punched the ball out. Linebacker Kaleb Ringer recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
The Panthers got their first big play of the game on the following possession with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Nick Arbuckle to Donovan Harden, giving Georgia State a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Liberty responded with a long drive (11 plays for 75 yards), which ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by Desmond Rice, tying the game at 7.
The Panthers answered with another big play with Arbuckle throwing a deep pass down the middle of the field to Robert Davis for the 61-yard touchdown, giving Georgia State the 14-7 lead.
Liberty took control in the second quarter, producing long scoring drives of 78 and 98 yards, respectively. The first scoring drive ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by Todd Macon, tying the game at 14. Liberty took a 21-14 lead on a 1-yard by Rice before halftime.
Georgia State tied the game at 21 early in the third quarter on another big passing play from Arbuckle to Penny Hart for a 58-yard score. Liberty regained the lead, 28-21, on another 1-yard touchdown run by Rice, which capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive.
The Panthers cut the lead to 28-24 on a 49-yard field goal by Wil Lutz late in the third quarter.
Liberty opened the fourth quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run by Macon, extending Liberty’s lead to 35-24. Lutz converted his second field goal of the game from 32 yards out to cut the score to 35-27, but Liberty kicker John Lunsford responded with a 28-yard field goal, extending the lead to 38-27.
With 2:51 left to play, Arbuckle scrambled to the end zone from 8 yards out for a touchdown, but was sacked on the 2-point conversion attempt, leaving the score at 38-33.
Lunsford added another field goal for Liberty from 56 yards out, extending the lead to 41-33. Georgia State tried to get a scoring drive going late in the game, but Arbuckle was picked off by Chris Turner to end the game.
Arbuckle finished the game 18-of-29 for 394 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Panthers were out-rushed 263 to 11 yards, and was on the filed for only 16:27, while Liberty had a 43:33 time of possession.
“We were out-played today,” Georgia State Coach Trent Miles said after the game. “We have to get back to the drawing board and I have to do a better job of getting our defense tackling—getting back to the way we were tackling before the game.”
Georgia State (1-3) will return to action Oct. 10 at the Georgia Dome against Appalachian State. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.