It was almost too good to be true. Another Georgia State Panthers upset against a ranked team, except it was not.
The 19 ranked Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana fought back after being down 14 points to defeat the Panthers 34-31 in overtime. Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah Mitchell broke loose for the game-winning 12 yard rushing touchdown in overtime, keeping the Cajuns undefeated for the season.
This was a tough game for the Ragin Cajuns after being down 14-0 early in the first and third quarter. The Panthers were unable to retain their lead after the Ragin Cajuns tied the game at 21 late in the third quarter. From that point on, it was a tough, hard grinding game for both teams.
These two Sun-Belt teams had a lot to play for in this early season game.
It was the home season opener for the Panthers after their original season opener against Murray State was canceled. Instead, they got a tough and ranked Sun Belt opponent in the Ragin Cajuns who just came off a dominating 31-14 victory against Iowa State.
The Ragin Cajuns came into this game knowing they were the favorites but also knew it would be a tough road game. Although they have to play one game at a time, they knew they needed this win for major Sun-Belt championship implications in preparation for Georgia Southern next week.
After a 12 yard rush by Panthers redshirt freshman quarterback Cornelius Brown in the first quarter and a touchdown from Brown to tight end Roger Carter, the Panthers seem to be in control early leading 14-0 in the second.
On the ensuing Panthers offensive possession, Ragin Cajuns cornerback Mekhi Garner intercepted Brown which turned the game around for the Ragin Cajuns.
Before halftime, quarterback Levi Lewis put the Ragin Cajuns on the board with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith to trail 14-7 at the half.
After the Panthers defense forced a three and out at the beginning of the third quarter, running back Marcus Brown put the Panthers lead back at 14 with a two-yard rushing touchdown.
The Ragin Cajuns did a lot of raging on the offensive end, scoring 21 unanswered points to give them their first lead of the game.
Lewis threw another touchdown pass to receiver Kyren Lacy to cut the lead to seven. Mitchell added another touchdown, with a 59-yard run, tying the game at 21 at the end of the third quarter.
Ragin Cajuns running back Trey Ragas added another score to give the Cajuns their first lead of the game at 28-21 early in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers refused to let the game get away from them. Running Back Destin Coates who finished the game with 150 yards on 34 touches found the end zone from two yards out to tie the game at 28.
Both teams could not get anything going on offense in the last four minutes of the game which led to overtime.
The Panthers went first on offense but could not find the endzone, settling for a 25-yard field goal by Noel Ruiz to lead 31-28.
The Ragin Cajuns offensive line wore the Panthers defense down late as Elijah Mitchell scored the game-winning 12-yard rushing touchdown to put them ahead.
“We felt like we were very capable,” Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott said of his defense and team’s play coming into this game.
“We got a little worn down,” said Elliott on his defense and key to their loss. They’re a bigger offensive line, we weren’t making our right fits in the running game. It caught up to us.”
The Panthers gave up 240 yards on the ground and 279 yards through the air. They will look to rebound at Charlotte next Saturday.