Georgia State handles Ball State with ease in the Camellia Bowl 51-20

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After a competitive first half, Georgia State pulled away in the second half beating Ball State 51-20 in the Tax Act Camellia Bowl on Saturday at Crampton Bowl.

Georgia State (8-5) outscored Ball State 31-7 in the second half.

The offense struggled to get anything going for the Cardinals (6-7), rushing for 74 yards and passing for 293 yards. Georgia State’s offense had 462 yards including 259 on the ground .

Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger rushed for a game-high 124 yards and passed for 203 yards completing 15-of-19 passes. He threw three touchdown passes and ran another in.

The Panthers' leading receiver was Aubry Payne with eight catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Here is what we learned:

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Georgia State is in great hands with returning quarterback Darren Grainger

Grainger has proved to be a true dual-threat quarterback. The junior accounted for 1,715 yards passing, 19 passing touchdowns and 648 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns this season. Since becoming the clear starting quarterback, the Panthers are 7-2. On Saturday, Grainger eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing and rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in a single game in his career .

"This game definitely gave me confidence going into next season to just keep the ball rolling, to just keep the momentum going," said Grainger.

Grainger played two seasons with Furman before transferring to Georgia State this season.

Replacing Cardinals quarterback Drew Plitt will not be easy

Ball State’s offense relies heavily on Plitt and the passing game. Over 65% of their plays on offense this season have been passes. That narrative did not change Saturday. Plitt completed 27-of-46 passes for 293 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

The Cardinals' backup quarterbacks have little experience only attempting a combined 28 passes this season.

Ball State needs a more balanced offense to succeed

The Cardinals rushed less than 40% of plays this season. Ball State struggled running the ball against the Panthers. The Panthers' defense had allowed 147 yards per game on the ground.

Ball State passed the ball 57% of its plays Saturday for 293 yards. To keep the defense on their heels, Neu must mix up the play calls on offense.

"We had some moving parts on the offensive line, we had to adjust during the middle of the week and that's part of it. We had some players step in and play their first snaps of the season this year," said Ball State coach Mike Neu.

Running backs Will Jones and Carson Steele have shown they can handle the ball when given the chance, but the offensive line's run blocking must improve as well.

"Our coaches do the best job possible to put those guys in the best position possible obviously. Georgia State put us in a tough spot with their great rush defense. They will make you earn it," said Neu. "Not many teams run well on them or run for big gains against them. That tells you that they are very physical, they tackle well, they fly to the ball, they have a huge population to the ball if you will. We knew it was gonna be tough and we grinded out some tough yards, but obviously it wasn't enough at the end of the day."

The running game will be paramount to the Cardinals' success next season especially with Plitt's departure.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Georgia State handles Ball State with ease in the Camellia Bowl

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