Montrell Johnson ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a go-ahead score on a 13-yard carry with 2:32 remaining, as No. 24 Louisiana avoided an upset by defeating Georgia State 21-17 on Thursday night at Lafayette, La.
Louisiana (8-1, 6-0 Sun Belt) won its eighth game in a row to clinch a spot in next month’s conference championship game representing the West Division. This was the team’s fourth win by four or fewer points.
Georgia State (4-5, 3-2) led for most of the game, but its chances of winning the Sun Belt’s East Division were severely damaged by the result. The Panthers reached the Louisiana 49-yard line on their final possession before an incomplete pass on fourth down.
The teams combined for five touchdowns during a six-possession stretch in the second half.
Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis threw for 287 yards on 19-of-34 passing with a touchdown and an interception. Johnson produced 98 yards on 17 carries.
Tucker Gregg ran for 99 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for Georgia State.
Georgia State led 10-0 midway through the third quarter after converting following a Louisiana turnover.
Antavious Lane intercepted Lewis, and it took the Panthers just three plays to cover 52 yards, scoring on Darren Grainger’s 37-yard pass to Roger Carter.
The Ragin’ Cajuns finally got untracked, going 75 yards on 12 plays with Lewis connecting with Peter LeBlanc for a 14-yard touchdown play.
The hosts scored again on their next possession, this time needing just six plays to march 51 yards. Johnson ran in from 3 yards out to give Louisiana its first lead with 13:11 left in the game.
However, a 16-play, 76-yard drive gave Georgia State the lead again on Gregg’s 1-yard run at the 5:25 mark.
Earlier, the points were tougher to collect for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana drove inside the Georgia State 10-yard line on the first drive of the game and on its last possession of the first half. Both times the Ragin’ Cajuns gave the ball back after a failed fourth-down play.
The only points of the first half came at the end of Georgia State’s first drive, a 12-play march that concluded with Noel Ruiz’s 39-yard field goal.
Though the Ragin’ Cajuns are ranked 24th in the AP poll, they did not crack the Top 25 in the first College Football Playoff ratings that were released Tuesday.
–Field Level Media