Darren Grainger, Marcus Carroll Shine, Panthers Defense Thrives, as Georgia State Take Down Coastal Carolina

Darren Grainger returned home to Conway and helped Georgia State get their fourth win of the season with victory over Coastal Carolina.

The Georgia State Panthers asserted themselves as a legitimate contender in the Sun Belt with an impressive display on both sides of the ball to beat perennial title contender Coastal Carolina 30-17 on the road to kick off college football Week 4 in style.

Darren Grainger and Marcus Carroll Shine, Defense Thrives in Impressive Georgia State win

It was a happy homecoming for Panthers quarterback and Conway native Darren Grainger, who terrorized the “Teal Turf” with a consummate display in the 30-17 win. Meanwhile, the Georgia State defense flew to the football all night long, making life uncomfortable for Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall who threw his 100th career touchdown in the defeat.

The Panthers up-tempo offense caught the Chanticleers unawares early and often in Conway on Thursday night, with Grainger moving the ball at will both on the ground and through the air. Despite some early drops, Ja’Cyais Credle, Tailique Williams, and Robert Lewis all made big plays in the passing game for their quarterback early in the game.

While the nation’s leading rushing touchdown scorer, Marcus Carroll, contributed to a ground game that Coastal Carolina continues to struggle defending in the 2023 college football season, it was Grainger who flashed his true dual-threat ability to open the scoring, capping a 14-play, 75-yard opening drive with an 8-yard scramble into the end zone to put the Panthers up.

It was a lead that Georgia State wouldn’t relinquish, progressing to 4-0 for the first time in program history. Although Coastal Carolina answered with a 30-yard Liam Gray field goal, the Panthers pounced once more early in the second quarter. Grainger connected with Lewis for a 13-yard touchdown, one week after a record-setting breakout game for the Panthers WR.

Despite a dropped snap early in the game, and a fumble that was thankfully recovered by his offensive line — not to mention the early drops from multiple receivers — Grainger looked every bit a frontrunner to be named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.

Recently named the top quarterback in the conference by CFN, the Georgia State standout repeatedly set his feet, scanned the field, and fired deadly accurate passes, spreading the ball to seven different receivers. He threw effortlessly on the move, while showcasing deceptive, twitchy athleticism from his 6’4″, 225-pound frame.

It was a far less comfortable night for his opposite number, Coastal Carolina quarterback McCall. The mulleted magician was put under constant and ferocious pressure throughout the game, with the Chanticleers offensive front overmanned and outperformed from start to finish.

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Seven different Panthers found their way into the Coastal Carolina backfield, stymieing the run game in the first half, and terrorizing McCall for the most part of the game. Led by Justin Abraham, TyGee Leach, and Anthony Blume, they held the Chanticleers to 2.1 rushing yards and 4.37 total yards per play in the first half.

Coastal started the third quarter in threatening fashion, adopting a two-back inside zone approach that proved difficult to stop, with the attention the ground game commanded opening up McCall’s arm — finding a wide open Jameson Tucker for his first career touchdown. The score bought the Chants back within a score, but it was the closest they’d get to the Panthers all night.

Liam Rickman stroked through a 38-yard field goal with a little over five minutes left in the third, before running back Carroll finished off an early fourth quarter drive with his eighth rushing touchdown of the season — extending the Panthers lead to 27-10 while stretching his national rushing touchdown lead. The star running back ended the night with 150 rushing yards.

However, that wasn’t the end of the drama in a showdown that lived up to the pre-game hype.

After the Georgia State defense once again stood tall, stopping the Chanticleers on a red zone fourth down attempt, the Panthers offense got the ball back looking to bleed the clock and close out the victory. Yet, the Coastal defense forced a three-and-out, and a special teams faux par saw Abraham Temoney collect a scoop-and-score, reducing the deficit to 10 points.

A clock-milking drive from Georgia State that saw Carroll pad his box score resulted in another Rickman field goal, essentially putting the game to bed in giving the Panthers a 30-17. Nothing is impossible when McCall has the ball for the Chanticleers, but Coastal Carolina couldn’t penetrate an astonishing defensive effort early and often enough, closing out a 30-17 Panthers win.

Georgia State looks to continue their fairytale 2023 college football campaign when they welcome the reigning Sun Belt champions Troy Trojans to Atlanta. Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina looks to rebound from their second loss of the season when they travel to Statesboro to take on the high-volume passing attack of the Georgia Southern Eagles.