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Long TD lone bright spot for McLane, GSU

ATLANTA -- Ben McLane's first collegiate touchdown pass was a thing of beauty, the former Brookwood quarterback hitting Albert Wilson in stride for an 84-yard scoring bomb.

It was significant, too. The completion was the longest in Georgia State's three-year football history and gave the Panthers their first lead of the season.

The 7-3 advantage in the first quarter didn't last long, though. Worse yet, it was the only one GSU would have Saturday night and McLane spent the second half on the sideline at the Georgia Dome with a numb left hand.

Texas-San Antonio (3-0) scored touchdowns the next three times it had the ball to go up 24-7 at halftime and rolled to 38-14 victory over the Panthers (0-3).

McLane was 6-for-14 for 126 yards and had an interception before being replaced by Ronnie Bell for the second half. The red-shirt freshman also fumbled twice, although none were lost, after dropping the ball six times in the previous game at Tennessee.

It was the second fumble on a flea-flicker play against UTSA that showed coach Bill Curry that McLane hadn't been fully truthful on how bad he had been hurt when hit on the forearm during an earlier sack.

"He was trying to be a tough guy and continue to play," Curry said.

But McLane dropped the return throw on the trick play and watched Bell play the second half, going 5-for-11 for 95 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Roadrunners had to come back from a 14-0 deficit to defeat GSU 17-14 in overtime last year in San Antonio. This time UTSA, in its second year of football under former Miami coach Larry Corker, had things easier.

The Western Athletic Conference team ran up 442 yards against the Panthers and forced four turnovers.

GSU had hoped to build off the positives in last week's 51-13 loss at Tennessee, when McLane scored the Panthers' first TD of the season on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter and threw for 176 yards. It didn't happen.

At least there weren't many fans watching as the Panthers took a step back against USTA. The crowd was announced at 11,496, but it appeared that only about half that number was actually on hand. After UTSA drove 79 yards following the opening kickoff and Sean Ianno kicked a 26-yard field goal, McLane and Wilson struck. After two incomplete passes and a false-start penalty, Wilson got open deep along the left sideline on a third-and-15 play and McLane laid it out perfectly for him.

But Kenny Harrison returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards and USTA went back ahead for good on Evans Okotcha's 5-yard run. Two more scoring drives would follow.

Eric Souza hit Seth Grubb with a 5-yard TD pass before the end of the first quarter to complete a 51-yard drive and the Roadrunners then drove 74 yards in the second quarter to go up 24-7 on Okotcha's TD from a yard out.

USTA took advantage of a Donald Russell fumble and Bell interception to increase its lead to 38-7 in the third quarter. Souza threw 20 yards to Marcellus Mack and had a sneak from a yard out for the TDs.

Bell hit Wilson on a 25-yard scoring pass late in the third quarter, but the Roadrunners controlled the ball most of the fourth on two long drives before turning the ball over on downs both times.

The Panthers, who move up to the Sun Belt Conference next, open their one-and-only Colonial Athletic Association season next Saturday against Richmond (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.

It will be another challenge, no matter who the GSU quarterback is.

"We have a gutty bunch, but we're not doing what we have to do," Curry said.