MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trent Miles and his Georgia State Panthers, 41-point underdogs, began to believe they could hang with West Virginia after a 65-yard touchdown run.
As Travis Evans sprinted down the Georgia State sideline—one play after the Panthers defense sacked WVU on a fourth-down attempt—the visitors trailed by only 10 points in the third quarter.
“Obviously it was blocked well, and (Evans) did a great job,” said Miles. “We need more of those and we have to be able to find consistent drives.”
The Panthers had scored just one offensive touchdown against BCS-conference opponents in their four-year history, and Evans’ run was the longest in program history. Though as Miles pointed out, “Our history is not very long.”
Building on his benchmark moment, Evans ended the day with 118 yards on 12 carries, but WVU pulled away with three fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 41-7 win.
GSU struggled to run the football in its first two games against Samford and UT-Chattanooga, scrounging up a combined 102 rushing yards. On Saturday, West Virginia conceded 136 rushing yards. Still, Miles remained unimpressed.
“We came in and tried to run the football,” he said. “It’s good to have that long run, but take it out and it’s not real good.”
The first-year coach Miles was prepared for the Milan Puskar Stadium atmosphere, having taken his previous FCS school Indiana State into Penn State, Louisville and Indiana.
“It was a good crowd—I enjoyed it,” he said. “If your players can’t get fired up to play in front of that, that’s not good. I’m used to it, that’s where I feel at home. I enjoy that stage and eventually that will be Georgia State in the future.”
The Morgantown crowd of 57,440 was the third-largest crowd in Georgia State history. Miles’ team now must focus on opposing Jacksonville State next week before traveling to No. 1 Alabama in October.