All week long, Georgia State Panther fans, staff and alumni celebrated their 38-30 upset win against Tennessee last Saturday. While they were celebrating, Panther players and coaches were working to make sure the Furman Paladins did not make an upset of their own. Georgia State hosted the Paladins for their home season opener and sought to build off of their performance against the Volunteers.
It was the Paladins who got off to a strong start early though. Their first drive consisted of six plays that went 75 yards in two minutes (2:33 to be precise). Paladins quarterback Darren Grainger found wide receiver Ryan Miller for an 18 yard touchdown pass to lead 6-0 early.
Panthers quarterback Dan Ellington led the Panthers downfield on their first offensive possession but they settled for a field goal to trail 6-3.
The Paladins offense did not slow down though. This time Grainger finished an 11 play drive finding Thomas Gordon for a 32 yard touchdown pass to lead 13-3.
This time, the Panthers had no answer, going three and out giving the Paladins a lot of momentum early on.
As the second quarter began, the Paladins offense marched downfield once again finishing their third offensive drive with a three yard rushing touchdown by running back Devin Wynn.
The score was 20-3 and Panther fans remained anxious for their offense while Paladins fans were loud and feeling an upset early on.
With five minutes remaining until halftime, the Panthers defense were able to force their first three and out of the game to give their offense a chance at points.
Ellington and the offense did not disappoint, this time Tra Barnett cashed in from 18 yards to give the Panthers their first touchdown of the game.
This time, Georgia State fans were loud and the defense settled into the game and forced another three and out.
As time ticked off the clock, Ellington led the offense downfield with hopes of putting up points before going into halftime.
Ellington succeeded, this time finding Terrance Dixson for a ten yard touchdown pass as time expired. The Panthers only trailed 20-17 at halftime.
The Panthers received the second half kickoff with intentions of gaining their first lead of the game.
At this point, the offense remained hot of their momentum from the first half and the Panthers could not be stopped. This time Ellington completed a 26 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sam Pickney to give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 24-20.
The Georgia State defense stepped up again, forcing another three and out.
Ellington kept the offense hot, this time finishing a seven play, 66 yard drive by completing a two yard touchdown pass to tight end Roger Carter to extend their lead to 11.
It seemed that the Panthers were going to run away with the game as the Paladins defense had no answers for Ellington and the offense.
Instead, the Paladins did not rollover. They responded with an 11 yard touchdown pass from Grainger to wide receiver Ryaan DeLuca to narrow the Panthers lead to three.
The Panthers continued to have an answer though. Ellington responded with another touchdown pass. This time he found his other tight end Aubrey Payne from 20 yards to lead 38-28.
As the fourth quarter began, both offenses were hot and neither defense seemed to have an answer.
Until then, Grainger and the Furman offense kept rolling. This time Grainger found Devin Abrams for a 30 yard touchdown pass to make the score 38-35.
Ellington responded once again, as he did all night with a 44 yard touchdown pass to Cornelius McCoy to put Georgia State’s lead back at 10.
Furman sought an answer but the Panthers defense had other plans. The Paladins ran a trick play which was intercepted by Panthers safety Remy Lazarus who returned it to the Furman 15 yard line.
However, the Panthers offense settled for a field goal to make the score 48-35.
With 7:35 remaining in regulation, Grainger and the Paladins were on the move once again. This time, Grainger rushed in from 12 yards out to cut the lead to six with 3:26 remaining.
The Paladins onside kick was unsuccessful and recovered by the Panthers. Georgia State was unable to get a first down, forcing them to punt and give the Paladins a chance to win.
The Panthers defense came up big again, forcing the Paladins to turnover on downs.
Barnett and the Panthers were able to pick up a first down ultimately running out the clock, giving the Panthers their second win of the season.
“I’m very very proud of our football team, our players deserve all of the credit in this win,” said head coach Shawn Elliott after the game. “It truly was a total team effort. It wasn’t sharp at all and we’ve got to correct a lot of things before we play Western Michigan.
Elliott is excited about the hard fought victory but gave a lot of credit to the Paladins.
“I thought Furman was a quality opponent all week, I knew it would be a heck of a fight,” said Elliott. “It turned out to be exactly what we needed as a football team.”
Ellington set a school record for five touchdown passes in a game but Elliott wanted to give credit to his supporting cast.
“Dan did a phenomenal job in orchestrating the offense. [He] is a good player but he is as good as the guys that surround him,” said Elliott. They (the offensive line) did a great job in protecting him.”
Ellington gave credit to the offensive line and his supporting cast as well.
“The offensive line did a really good job tonight,” said Ellington. “The receivers caught the ball and made plays. [I] just got the ball in the playmakers hands.”
Ellington finished 29-37, 362 yards (91 yards rushing) and five touchdowns. He completed all of his five touchdowns to five different receivers and did not get sacked.
The Panthers head to Waldo Stadium next Saturday to face off against the Western Michigan Broncos.