Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Georgia State quarterback Ben McLane (16) gets sacked by South Carolina State Courtney Ingram (11) during college football action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday. McLane a Brookwood graduate made his first college start at quarterback during the GSU opener.
ATLANTA -- Any way you look at it, Thursday was a rough night for Georgia State in its 2012 football season opener against South Carolina State.
Outgained 490-265 and having let several opportunities to grab momentum slip away, the Panthers fell 33-6 before a crowd of 18,921 at the Georgia Dome, many of whom were gone by the early moments of the fourth quarter.
SCSU quarterback Richard Cue threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-29 passing, with Tyler McDonald hauling in two TD passes and Lennel Elmore and Caleb Davis each posting more than 100 yards receiving.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Ben McLane struggled in his debut as GSU's starting quarterback.
The Brookwood grad was hounded by a relentless SCSU pass rush that sacked him five times for 40 yards in losses, and completed just 7 of 15 passes for 54 yards before leaving the field dazed after the final sack late in the game.
Still, he was hardly alone, as the only real highlights the Panthers had on the evening were Donald Russell's 120 yards on 12 carries, and punter Matt Hubbard, who averaged 62.2 yards on five punts, including a GSU-record 80-yarder in the second quarter.
The Panthers fell into about as early a hole as a team can when SCSU hit a big play on the game's third snap.
Elmore got a step when his defender stumbled on the turf and hauled in Cue's bomb down the left sideline in stride for a 72-yard touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead just 54 seconds after the opening kickoff.
Down 7-3 late in the first half, it looked like the Panthers had grabbed momentum when a Brent McClendon interception -- GSU's second pick of a Cue pass in the half -- gave them a first down at the SCSU 23 with 5:40 left in the half.
But that momentum was blunted over the remainder of the half.
After giving the Bulldogs a new look with Kelton Hill at quarterback and moving as deep as the Bulldogs' 5, Donald Russell was thrown for a 2-yard loss on third and 2, and Matt Ehsatz, who had earlier put GSU on the board with a 36-yard field goal, clanked a 24-yard attempt off the right upright, keeping the deficit at four points.
Still, the Panthers had another chance after stopping SCSU on downs and taking over following a punt on their own 26 with 48 seconds left.
But McLane had his arm hit as he drew back to throw on the first play by Justin Hughes, who recovered to set the Bulldogs up at the GSU 23.
Three plays later, McDonald made a nifty catch against good coverage at the 2 and tightroped the left sideline into the end zone for a 22-yard scoring reception from Cue with 14 seconds left to send SCSU into intermission with a 14-3 lead.
GSU did manage to regain its composure coming out of the lockerroom, taking the second half kickoff and driving 64 yards in 12 plays, with 50 of those yards coming from the legs of Russell, down to the SCSU 8.
However, the drive stalled and the Panthers were forced to settle for a field goal attempt, with Ehsatz booting it home this time from 25 yards to cut the deficit to 14-6 just 4:04 into the third quarter.
But once again, the Bulldogs had an answer by slicing through the GSU defense to go 73 yards in nine plays.
McDonald finished the drive with another slick TD grab along the left sideline, this time from 13 yards out, to extend the SCSU lead to 21-6 with 6:32 left in the quarter.