Grainger throws for 3 TDs, runs for 2 as Georgia State rolls past Utah State in Potato Bowl
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Darren Grainger threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more, Freddie Brock rushed for a school-record 276 yards and a score, and Georgia State rolled past Utah State 45-22 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday.
Georgia State (7-6), which had lost five of six entering the game, scored 31 straight points to break it open.
The Panthers were missing six starters, and coach Shawn Elliott wasn’t sure what to expect.
“To get this bowl win and see how we prepared and got this bowl win,” Elliott said, shaking his head. “We had three new offensive linemen. ... We had a new running back starting for us and new wide receivers. But there wasn’t a single person who blinked an eye. They went out there and executed and got the job done.”
Utah State (6-7) fell apart after rolling up 161 yards of offense in the first quarter, tallying just 186 yards in the final three periods.
“I’m frustrated with how we played in all three phrases of the game,” Aggies coach Blake Anderson said. “They manhandled us from beginning to end. It’s not how you want to finish. But there are a lot of things that need to be fixed and things that can be fixed.”
Grainger, a senior who transferred from Furman in 2021, was 19-of-22 passing and rushed for 111 yards, accounting for 368 yards of total offense to earn MVP honors.
Brock, who assumed the starting role at running back after leading rusher Marcus Carroll transferred to Missouri following the regular season, ripped off runs of 31, 43, 58 and 60 yards. He broke the previous school record of 242 yards set by Trae Barnett against Troy on Oct. 26, 2019.
“I wasn’t worried about the record,” said Brock, a transfer from Maine who hadn’t carried the ball more than three times in a game for Georgia State. “I just came here to play and take advantage of the moment. I didn’t know about it until the last two runs.”
But Grainger knew.
“Before the last drive, I told the whole offensive line that we needed Brock to get that record right now,” Grainger said.
Brock needed 16 yards to get the record when he busted through the line for exactly that many.
Cadarrius Thompson hauled in five passes for 117 yards and two TDs for Georgia State.
Utah State’s Levi Williams, who won the Potato Bowl two years ago as the starting quarterback for Wyoming, was 12-of-21 passing for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Davon Booth rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown for the Aggies.
Georgia State: The Panthers’ performance bodes well for their future after losing four players to the transfer portal — all to Power Five schools — along with two more opt-outs for the game. Replacing Grainger will be difficult, but the returnees at the other skill positions are poised to carry the team, especially Brock, who plans to return.
Utah State: The Aggies’ momentum from the end of the regular season was missing — but so was starting quarterback Cooper Legas due to a late-season injury. Legas has announced he will be back in 2024.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football