The Panthers came into this game playing for #TheRealGSU bragging rights and a meaningful win to give their seniors a strong win to end the season. A win for the Eagles meant a lot for a team who is coming off a 2-10 season and looking to snap a three year losing streak to the Panthers.
Most of the stadium consisted of loud and passionate Eagles fans while the rest of the stadium consisted of a small portion of Panther fans decked out in blue.
Early on in the game, both teams stayed scoreless at the end of the first quarter.
Going into the second quarter, Eagles kicker Tyler Bass converted on a 39 yard field goal, giving the Eagles a three point lead with 14:55 to go until halftime.
Dan Ellington led the Panthers offense downfield as the Panthers were starting to gain momentum and get into scoring position. The drive was meaningless as Ellington was intercepted by Lane Ecton to swift all momentum to the Eagles.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the defense forced the Eagles to go three and out but they had to start from their own seven. A bad snap, on top of poor field position and an incompletion forced the Panthers to punt within their own five, giving the Eagles great field position starting at the Panthers 49.
This time, the Eagles capitalized on great field position as Shai Werts connected with Darion Anderson for a 38 yard touchdown reception to go up by ten.
Ellington and the offense knew a response was needed since halftime was near. The Panthers managed to get to the Eagles 30 before attempting a 47 yard field goal. Brandon Wright’s field goal was blocked by Brinson and returned to the Panthers 30. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty put the Eagles back to the Panthers 42 yard line.
The Eagles capitalized on great field position again as Bass 49 yard field goal put the Eagles up by 13 going into halftime.
The Panthers knew they were not out of the game but a crucial defensive stop was needed in order to stop the game from getting out of control.
Werts and the Eagles were too much for the Panthers defense as he rushed in for an 18 yard rushing touchdown. A successful two point conversion made the Eagles a 21 point lead.
Ellington and the Panthers offense struggled to move the ball, going three and out to give the Eagles offense another opportunity to stretch their lead.
The Panthers defense had no answer for Werts as he found Colby Ransom for a 58 yard touchdown reception to increase the Eagles lead to 28.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Panthers were playing for pride and needed to score before the game ended.
Ellington lead the Panthers 90 yards connecting with Devin Gentry for a seven yard reception to make the score 28-7.
The game was not over yet and Panther fans and players still believed a comeback was highly possible. All that was needed to make that possible was a stop from the Panthers defense. Unfortunately, Wesley FIelds put the game away with a 63 yard touchdown run to increase their lead back to 28.
A late touchdown pass by Ellington to Tamir Jones narrowed the lead back to 21 ending the game at 35-14.
“I appreciate what our seniors have done for us. They’ve laid a great foundation that they cannot see right now because of the hurt. They finished 3-1 against Georgia Southern unfortunately we didn’t come into the game expecting this loss,” said Panthers coach Shawn Elliott.
“I would hope I left the right way to lead. I have a lot of different emotions right now but I’m happy with everything I’ve done at this University and have no regrets,” said Penny Hart.
Hart also announced before the game that he will forego his senior season and enter into the NFL Draft next season.
The Panthers finish the season 2-10 overall, 1-7 in the Sun Belt and will prepare for their offseason. Meanwhile the Eagles finish 9-3 overall and third in the Sun-Belt while awaiting their next opponent and bowl game.