The Panthers needed a win to have a chance of staying bowl eligible after losing their last two games. On the other hand, the Chanticleers looked to finish their two game road trip with a win before they head home to face the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
“You guys have watched Penny Hart play. He is everything you want in a football player,” GSU head coach Shawn Elliott said. “It went off his fingertips today. And you’ve got to lift a young man like that up, because he’s putting everything on his shoulders right now thinking that it was all him. And it’s not even close.
“The way we come down and have a chance to win that football game with the last throw – you’ll write Georgia State is 2-6, but there’s a lot of things we take out of a tough game,” Elliott continued. “It’s certainly a disappointing defeat because when you look at the stats, we had 59 plays for 521 yards – you would’ve thought we had a pretty good day. But it turned out we came out on the wrong end and Coastal Carolina made the plays when they needed to, and we couldn’t get them off the field.”
The Chanticleers offense got off to a hot start as they moved into Panthers territory for a chance at seven points. This drive ended in a 32 yard field goal by Massimo Biscardi to lead by three with 10:07 to go in the first quarter.
Dan Ellington and the offense could not get anything going as they went three and out on their first two offensive possessions.
On the ensuing offensive possessions for the Chanticleers, CJ Marable broke loose for a 80 yard rushing touchdown. The next offensive drive resulted in freshman quarterback Fred Payton finding Malcolm Williams for a 25 yard touchdown pass to lead 17-0.
The Panthers defense had no answer for the Chanticleers offense and seemed incapable of stopping them. It was going to a challenge but offense needed to get some points first.
Ellington helped ignite the offense completing a four play, 75 yard drive by completing a 26 yard touchdown pass to Penny Hart.
Going into the second quarter down by 10, the Panthers defense was able to contain the Chanticleers offense only giving up a field goal. Down 20-7, with 10:18 to go in the second quarter, Ellington and the Panthers wanted to get some points going into halftime.
This time, Seth Paige punched it in from the one yard line to narrow the Chanticleers lead to seven.
Going into halftime the Panthers knew they just needed to keep grinding and playing to have a chance to win the second half.
“We knew coming into the second half that we just needed to execute and if we were still in the game,” said Panthers coach Shawn Elliott.
The team built off of their second quarter offensive performance as Tra Barnett scored on the first play of the third quarter to tie the game at 20.
The Panthers defense played strong forcing another three and out giving the offense an opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the game.
Ellington gave the Panthers their first lead after a 42 yard rushing touchdown to go up 27-20.
The home crowd was ecstatic and sensed the Panthers grabbing full control of the game. The Chanticleers changed that as their offense answered with a 28 yard touchdown run by Ky’Jon Tyler, tying things up at 27.
Barnett and the Panthers answered again with a 42 yard touchdown run to regain the lead 34-27. The Panthers lead going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was the difference in this game as the Panthers were outscored 10-0. Alex James three yard rushing touchdown tied things at 34 with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation. A field goal by Biscardi helped the Chanticleers regain their lead with 2:54 to go in the fourth.
Ellington had another chance of a game winning drive to give the Panthers their third win of the season. The crowd was chanting as fans were on their feet to witness another late game winning drive. Ellington managed to get the Panthers into the Chanticleers side of the field but two consecutive dropped passes by Hart on third and fourth down turned the ball over on downs giving the Chanticleers their fifth win of the season.
The reality of the game set in on the Panthers and players did not hold back their emotions.
“I would say tears, coming from him [Hart], as he is a competitor and left it all out on the field,” said Elliott when asked about Hart’s emotions after the game.
“Before that drive to win the game, I think that if I would of hit Penny on that pass, we would have won the game. It is on me,” said Ellington when asked if he had any regrets or improvements from this game.
Payton finished 12-17, 222 yards and a touchdown, while Marable rushed for 128 yards on 12 carries for a touchdown.
The Chanticleers will host Appalachian State Mountaineers next Saturday while the Panthers will host the Texas State Bobcats.