ATLANTA — Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle frustrated UL-Lafayette on third downs early during Saturday’s game at the Georgia Dome, but the Ragin’ Cajuns struck the more decisive blows late.
Though the Cajuns sacked Arbuckle twice on third down in the first three quarters, his other five dropbacks resulted in huge plays. Arbuckle converted three third downs of 10 or more yards, and he connected on his first five third-down pass attempts.
“Anytime you have third down and you can’t get the guy off the field, it’s real frustrating,” senior linebacker Dominique Tovell said.
Those five passes went for gains of 20, 21, 34, 14 and 22 yards.
“When it’s third-and-long with those guys, it’s almost like playing with house money,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He drops back there and if you give him time, he can get that ball in there to somebody.
“It’s almost like you don’t want them to be in third-and-long. You’d rather them be in third and short where they would maybe run the ball.”
But the Cajuns turned that statistic on its head in the final quarter.
Arbuckle misfired on a third-and-2 on his first third down of the quarter, when a better throw might’ve resulted in a touchdown. He was dropped for a sack on a crucial third down after the Cajuns took the lead, and another completion was stopped short of the sticks after tremendous coverage on the back end.
Georgia State converted just one of four third downs in the fourth quarter.
Be like Mike
Running back Elijah McGuire has been within striking distance of former Cajuns quarterback Mike Desormeaux on the Cajuns’ all-time rushing list for a couple weeks now, and he finally passed him to move into fourth place in school history.
McGuire entered the game needing 41 yards to pass Desormeaux. He passed the Ascension Episcopal football coach on a 6-yard third-quarter run.
McGuire finished with 73 rushing yards, leaving him 124 yards shy of 3,000 career rushing yards.
Still not a catch
Hudspeth disagreed with the officials’ first-quarter ruling of an incomplete pass on a fade route intended for Jamal Robinson, so he challenged the play.
After reviewing the play, officials concluded there was not enough to turn the play around in the Cajuns’ favor. Quarterback Brooks Haack threw a touchdown pass on the ensuing play to Al Riles to give the Cajuns a 17-7 lead.
It was the first challenge Hudspeth has used this season.
Hudspeth said previously this week that he thought defensive back Jevante Watson would be ready to play, but Watson did not play against Georgia State.
Troy McCollum and Savion Brown started at the corner positions. It was the first time the Cajuns used that pairing in their starting secondary.
Starting right guard Donovan Williams left the game midway through the second quarter with an ankle injury. Redshirt freshman Adrian Goodacre filled in for him for the remainder of the first half until Williams returned on the first drive of the second half.
Odds and ends
Riles finished the game with a career high 103 receiving yards. ... Coming into the game, the Cajuns ranked fifth nationally in opponent completion percentage at 48 percent. Arbuckle completed 58 percent of his throws Saturday but just three of his final 12. ... Georgia State tight end Keith Rucker caught six passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns against the Cajuns, but it was his second straight game with two receiving touchdowns and third straight with at least five catches and 50 yards.