ATLANTA (AP) — Gavin Pringle’s 21-yard pick-6 gave Georgia State the go-ahead touchdown, Marcus Carroll ran for three scores and the Panthers held on to beat Rhode Island 42-35 in a season opener Thursday night.
Carroll rushed for a career-high 184 yards on 23 carries. His 12-yard score, coming after his 63-yard run on the previous play, extended the Panthers’ lead to 42-28 midway through the fourth quarter. Kasim Hill got the Rams within a touchdown on a 5-yard run with 6:27 remaining but Rhode Island went nowhere on its final possession.
Darren Grainger threw for two touchdowns for Georgia State, completing 16 of 20 for 193 yards.
Hill was 24 of 40 for a career-high 408 yards passing with four touchdowns but also two interceptions. He added a rushing touchdown.
The teams combined for 944 yards offense.
Georgia State led 21-14 at halftime before the teams combined two TDs each in the third quarter. Hill gave the Rams their only lead at 28-21 with a 28-yard TD pass to Marquis Buchanan before the Panthers scored on a 23-yard Carroll run and Pringle’s interception.
Georgia State took the lead less than 90 seconds into the game after Grainger hit Robert Lewis over the middle at the goal line for a 39-yard score. Carroll scored on a 9-yard run and Grainger added a 42-yard TD pass to Tailique Williams as the Panthers scored on their first three possessions. Grainger completed his first 14 passes, missing only his final attempt of the half.
Rhode Island got on the board with a 20-yard reception by John Erby and added another TD on Gabe Sloat’s 15-yard TD catch to trail 21-14 at halftime.
The teams’ only other meeting came in a Colonial Athletic Association game in 2012, the Panthers’ lone season in the CAA before joining the Sun Belt Conference.
Rhode Island, ranked No. 23 in the FCS coaches poll, is host to Stony Brook on Sept. 8. Georgia State is host to UConn on Sept. 9.