The stop never came, and Marshall (8-4, 5-3) was able to end an unbeaten November and improve his bowl standing. Rasheen Ali ran 16 times for 102 yards and Khalan Laborn ran 11 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns, one an 83-yarder and the other a 1-yarder, which turned out to be the winner.
The result ruined a fine performance by Thrash, a junior from Troup High at LaGrange. Thrash caught nine passes for 155 yards and one touchdown, giving him 60 receptions for a Sun Belt Conference — a best 1,110 yards. Thrash is the third Panther with 1,000 yards in a season and 1,740 yards for his career, fifth on the school’s all-time list.
“I joked with him a bit and told him we’re going to need 16 catches from him,” Elliott said. “I think he’s the best in our league. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and the ball needs to be in his hands more. I think that’s one of the changes.”
GSU quarterback Darren Grainger completed 19 of 26 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown. But Grainger was under constant pressure from the Marshall defense and was sacked seven times, once in three straight games late in the fourth quarter.
Braving valiantly through injuries, Georgia State’s battered offensive line could not overcome its patchwork composition. The running attack, ranked No. 1 in conference, was limited to 74 yards on 43 carries and endured 12 tackles for the loss.
Running back Tucker Gregg ran 11 times for 21 yards and a touchdown, his 12th of the season, which set a school record. He finished his career with 2,265 yards and a best-in-school 28 touchdowns.
“We’ve had a lot of inconsistencies beforehand over the past few weeks,” Elliott said. “If you have inconsistencies, fight. You can’t have a guy that goes from left tackle to right tackle or left guard to right tackle. You just can’t have that. A lot had to do with injured guys that we had to maneuver and a lot had to do with guys that we had hoped would develop into quality players who weren’t able to go in there and finish . It’s been a long time since we’ve been dominated like we’ve been in the past few weeks.”
The Panthers will have a different look on the offensive line next season. Guard Pat Bartlett set a school record by playing in the 61st game of his career and center Malik Sumter started his 53rd straight game. The duo played 119 games from 107 starts combined and were anchors on the team that had three consecutive bowl appearances.
“I can’t say enough about this group of seniors who have made such a difference in our football program,” Elliott said. “These guys are committed to our football program and have had to believe in what we are doing. They’re having the most success they’ve ever had in Georgia State Football, and we couldn’t have accomplished anything without these guys. So it’s such a shame it had to end like this.”