Georgia State began 2019 with the thrill of a victory for the ages and ended the season with the agony of a bowl defeat to forget.
The Panthers were unable to take advantage of three takeaways and wound up getting thumped by a surging Wyoming squad, as the Mountain West visitors will return North for the New Year with a 38-17 Arizona Bowl win on Tuesday afternoon in Tucson.
Wyoming QB Levi Williams made the most of his first start at the college level, throwing for three touchdowns, one interception and 234 yards on just 11 completions — including this beauty in the first half:
Late nomination for play of the year? pic.twitter.com/FvneV6DBpz
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) December 31, 2019
As good as the true freshman was under center though, the day belonged to another in the backfield.
Namely, that would be tailback Xazavian Valladay, who was terrific and gives the team plenty of hope about forming a young core going forward. He rushed for 204 yards and a score while also leading the team in receiving with 91 through the air and another trip to the end zone. The sophomore really came on strong down the stretch for the team and the bowl effort capped off a 1,000 yard season on the ground and plenty promise.
As a result, it was yet another eight win season for the Cowboys under head coach Craig Bohl, who continues to develop one of the more consistent Mountain West programs at a place that has typically been tough to win at. While racking up 524 yards of offense delighted the very pro-Wyoming crowd in attendance in Tuscon, the coaching staff had to enjoy the complete effort the game represented that included several key 4th down stops from the defense and a long field goal conversion as well.
The Panthers weren’t so lucky to end the year on a high note despite marching right down the field for an opening drive touchdown to kick the game off. QB Dan Ellington threw for only 156 yards (one TD, one INT) and also led the team in rushing with 70 yards on the ground plus a score. GSU will wind up losing four of their final five to close out 2019 thanks to the effort, which dampens what had been a terrific start under head coach Shawn Elliott.