Georgia State Whips Utah State In Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Dec 23, 2023, 5:03 PM | Updated: Dec 26, 2023, 3:32 pm

BOISE, Idaho – A track meet first quarter gave way to a blowout as Utah State struggled to gain momentum in any phase of a season-ending loss to Georgia State.

USU (6-7) finished the 2023 season with a lopsided loss in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday, December 23.

First Quarter

The Aggies took the opening possession after GSU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. USU drove into Panther territory but gave the ball away on downs after Rahsul Faison was stopped short of the marker.

Georgia State, helped by an Aggie personal foul, drove into the red zone with QB Darren Grainger picking the USU defense apart. Grainger capped the drive with a one-yard rushing score, giving him 32 rushing yards and 55 total yards on the drive.

The Aggies answered with a lighting quick four-play drive that culminated in Levi Williams connecting with Jalen Royals for a 35-yard scoring pass. The TD was the 14th of the year for Royals, setting the single-season program record for receiving touchdowns.

RELATED: Royals Sets USU Single-Season Touchdown Record

GSU mounted another scoring drive, marching 75 yards in five plays before Grainger’s second rushing TD of the quarter put the Panthers back in front.

Two plays later, Davon Booth broke two tackles before sprinting 65 yards for a USU bowl-rushing record TD.

RELATED: Booth Races For Longest Rushing Score In USU Bowl History

Georgia State wasn’t done, needing seven more plays for Grainger to find Talique Williams for a 27-yard score.

Utah State trailed 21-14 after the highest-scoring first quarter in Potato Bowl history.

Second Quarter

USU opened the quarter by driving into Panther territory but Elliot Nimrod’s streak of five consecutive made field goals came to an end when a 37-yard attempt sailed wide right with 12:24 left in the period.

A turnover allowed Utah State to wrest momentum away from GSU. The Panthers had driven into USU territory but Grainger was pressured and threw a pass toward the goal line. Rykem Laney made the catch but Michael Anyanwu punched the ball free and Simeon Harris fell on it for the Aggies.

A third down Williams INT gave the ball back to Georgia State in the red zone. The Panthers turned it into three points to take a 24-14 lead with 7:30 left in the half.

After forcing an Aggie punt, Grainger led another touchdown drive, finding Cadarrius Thompson in the end zone after a coverage bust from the defense.

Third Quarter

The opening kickoff of the half bounced off the face of Panther returner Talique Williams and looked ticketed for the second GSU turnover of the afternoon. Three Aggie special teamers jumped on the loose ball but Williams found a way to recover the football.

Both teams traded punts to open the second half.

Georgia State’s onslaught continued when Grainger found Thompson for a 37-yard TD, making the score 38-14 GSU with 6:02 left in the third.

Later in the period after the Panthers missed a field goal, McCae Hillstead took over at QB.

Fourth Quarter

The Panthers tacked on another TD when a 43-yard Freddie Brock run set his team up inside the five. On the next play, Brock rumbled into the end zone for the sixth GSU touchdown of the day.

Terrell Vaughn broke free on the Aggies next drive for a 31-yard grab that put USU on the Panthers side of the field. Hillstead and Vaughn hooked up again a few plays later for a short TD catch, Vaughn’s 11th score of the year.

Utah State went on to lose 45-22.

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Georgia State Whips Utah State In Famous Idaho Potato Bowl