It is a great time to be a Panther at Georgia State University but if you’re an Eagles fan, the 30-24 defeat at Center Parc Stadium will be for the next 365 days.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, this time in Atlanta, proved to be a game that lived up to the hype and intensity.
Although Center-Parc Stadium was not filled to full capacity, the crowd was loud on both sides and the gameplay and intensity between both teams were through the roof.
“It means something to all of us,” said Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott on the win. “Our men stood strong and I’m so proud of them.”
Redshirt Freshman quarterback Cornelious “Quad” Brown finished the day with 28-39, 372 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Although the stats can be deceiving, the Panthers scored two rushing touchdowns while only rushing for 55 yards. Junior running back Destin Coates led the way rushing for 47 yards on 15 carries for one touchdown.
The game was an all-time classic and close.
The Panthers converted on a 35-yard field goal to lead 3-0 with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles responded on their ensuing drive, converting on the first play of the second quarter with a seven-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Shai Werts to lead 7-3.
They did not stop scoring on their next offensive possession. Eagles running back Logan Wright broke a big run of 63 yards to put the Eagles ahead 14-3 with 12:00 remaining in the second quarter.
Both teams settled in defensively and offensively as they both went three and out.
The Panthers got their offensive series going though but had to settle for three points. This time kicker Noel Ruiz kick was good from 29 yards to cut the lead to 8, as they trailed 14-6.
After the Eagles missed a 52-yard field on their next possession, the Panthers took advantage. This time they got in the red zone and scored. Brown threw a perfect pass to receiver Cornelius McCoy in the right corner of the end zone by the pylon.
The Panthers trailed 14-13 at halftime.
The Eagles came out strong on their first drive in the second half. The Panthers’ defense stood strong and forced them to settle for three as they increased their lead to four.
The score remained 17-13 at the end of the third quarter but the Eagles were deep in Panthers territory to begin the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wright cruised into the endzone untouched from five yards to put the Eagles up by 11.
Responding when down is what the Panthers did all night.
“We learned how to finish,” said Elliott when asked what was different in this game compared to previous ones.
Finishing is what the Panthers did to win this game. An eight-play, 75-yard drive capped off by Coates with a four-yard rushing touchdown, put the Panthers back in the game. The two-point conversion was no good but the Panthers only trailed 24-19 with 12:13 left in the game.
The Eagles stalled on their next drive and attempted a 48-yard field goal which Eagles kicker Alex Raynor missed. This set the Panthers up with great field position at their own 31.
Brown finished the next position with a goal-line quarterback sneak to put the Panthers ahead since leading 3-0 in the first quarter. The two-point conversion was good and the Panthers lead 27-24 with 2:54 remaining.
Georgia State’s defense got in on the fun on the Eagles’ ensuing possession. Offensive linebacker stripped-sacked Eagles quarterback Justin Tomlin and Panthers inside linebacker Blake Carrol recovered the fumble taking it to the Eagles 24.
The Panthers ran the football on all three downs forcing the Eagles to use their timeouts.
Ruiz converted a 35-yard field goal with 1:53 left to go up 30-24.
The Eagles managed to get to their own 37 before Tomlin overthrew his receiver, getting intercepted by cornerback Quavian White which sealed the win for the Panthers.
There were game-changing plays that made a huge difference in the game for the Panthers but Elliott saw it differently.
“I don’t think there really was a turning point to tell you the truth,” said Elliott. “I think we played a solid game from start to finish.” Elliott went on to say that the team “stayed firm” and simply executed the game plan.