Cure Bowl: Georgia State Prevails For First Bowl Victory
The Auto Nation Cure Bowl, hosted by Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL was off to a vibrant energy. As Western Kentucky University and Georgia State University took the field for pregame warmups. The fans were getting pumped up to the Andy Grammer pregame concert. After the concert, fans started to file into their seats and get this bowl season started. The third Auto Nation Cure Bowl was set to start.
After a slow start by a Western Kentucky University, Georgia State received the ball via downs. They drove down the field with multiple jet sweeps and dives up the middles. But after an amazing sack in the red zone, Georgia State has to settle for a field goal by Brandon Wright. He gave the lead to Georgia State 3-0. Western Kentucky took the field after the field goal, and Mike White drives down the field with two passes. In addition, one slant and then a wide open bomb to Deon Yedler for a 54-yard touchdown on a busted coverage from Georgia State. The extra point was successful. Western Kentucky took the lead 7-3 with half of the first quarter gone.
Once Western Kentucky kicked the ball off, Georgia States QB Connor Manning took no prisoners and throw a 49-yard floater down the sideline. This would set up a 26-yard touchdown run from Demarcus Kirk to extend the lead to 10-7. Western Kentucky received the kickoff and started a good drive. Until Mike White was unaware of the edge rusher and was strip-sacked, Western Kentucky was able to fall on it. Then they converted on a fourth down to extend the drive, but after overthrowing his receiver, Western Kentucky had to punt the ball. They pinned them within their 20-yard line, then Georgia State’s QB Connor Manning scrabbled and fumbled the ball, Western Kentucky took over right outside the red zone. This ended the first quarter with Georgia State up 10-7.
With the start of the second quarter, Western Kentucky was unable to convert on third down. They settled for a field goal to tie the game 10-10. Georgia State started with terrible field position. But after a quick dump pass and penalty to give them the first down. It got them to midfield. Georgia State has a nice fake screen pass. This led to QB Connor Manning running up the side for a nice gain. Then after a roughing the passer and targeting penalty, Georgia State would advance into the red zone. Also ejecting Julien Lewis, DL for Western Kentucky, for the targeting hit on QB Connor Manning. Yet, with all the help Georgia State was still unable to convert a touchdown. Brandon Wright took the lead with a field goal to make the score 13-10.
Georgia State kickoffs to Western Kentucky to get the ball back to Georgia State. After Georgia State was still unable to convert on downs and give the ball back to Western Kentucky University. This pinned them on the 4-yard line. Yet, Western Kentucky drives past the 50-yard line to get into field goal range and attempt to score before the half. Instead, Western Kentucky University QB Mike White coughed up the ball and Georgia States LB Chase Middleton picked up the ball. He would return it for about 30 yards to give Georgia State great field position.
Resulting in a touchdown from Connor Manning to Jonathan Ifedi. It would give the lead to Georgia State 19-10. After the touchdown was reviewed and called back for his knee being down. He attempted a 54-yard field goal but was wide right. It was returned by Western Kentucky, but nothing was produced as halftime started. Georgia State still had the lead 13-10 over Western Kentucky.
Georgia State received the ball at the beginning of the half. It started with a big run by RB Glenn Smith for a 30-yard scamper to get Georgia State into field goal range. Yet, Georgia State was attempting to build on their momentum and go for it on 4th down. This did not convert and they turned the ball over. Western Kentucky started to change the momentum. They would pick up the pace on offense, but could not convert and punts the ball away again. Georgia State drove down the field, Connor Manning called a DOUBLE REVERSE FLEA FLICKER. He scored a 42-yard touchdown pass to Roger Carter to extend the lead to 20-10.
After Western Kentucky received the ball, the momentum was clearly staying with Georgia State. Western Kentucky attempted to get out of their own end zone.This started too until mental mistakes by the offense caused them to try and convert on a 3rd and 23. Georgia State got the ball back and started to run the clock down to secure their victory. After wasting an absurd amount of time, Western Kentucky got the ball, just before the end of the 3rd Quarter.
To start the 4th Quarter, Western Kentucky attempted a trick play. They had Nacarius Fant throw a deep ball, that was intercepted by Jerome Smith to give Georgia State the ball back with all the time in the 4th Quarter still on the clock. With Georgia State given the ball back with a lot of time in the 4th Quarter, Georgia State converted on a 4th Down and continued to run the ball and the clock down. Georgia State was able to waste another 7 minutes on the clock, but topped it off with Kyler Neal one-yard rushing touchdown, making the lead 27-10 Georgia State.
With 5:50 left on the clock, Western Kentucky attempted to start their comeback. After multiple failed drives, Mike White was able to score off of a 4 yard TD pass to Deon Yedler with 2:34 left. They lined up for the onside kick. Unfortunately, they did not receive it, After Georgia State was unable to convert a first down, Western Kentucky was able to obtain the ball back. But Mike White dropped back and was unable to complete the pass to the correct receiver, throwing his first interception of the night. This would end the game, 27-17.
Georgia State obtained their first-ever bowl victory. Which is a very heartfelt moment. It is worth noting they were the inaugural team in the Auto Nation Cure Bowl just a few years ago. It was a very disappointing way to end the struggling season of Western Kentucky University. However, they should look to build this offseason to find their true identity on offense.