Panthers go down in Paulson Stadium

Amanda Arnold

STATESBORO — The Georgia Southern football team defeated in-state rival Georgia State, 38-10, in the last game of the season.

Before the game began, there was a tussle on the field about two hours before kick-off. Both teams were separated and tensions were high.

After a recharge in the locker room, GS came out ready to even out the rivalry series record. 

Junior running back J.D. King rushed for a season-high three touchdowns to lead the offense with help from fellow junior running back Wesley Kennedy III’s 79 rushing yards.

This was King’s first rivalry game as an Eagle and after sitting out last week against Arkansas State due to injury, he knew this game would have higher stakes.

“It was way more personal,” King said. “You could tell the hate they have for us and the hate we have for them on the field. We got the dub so that’s really all that matters, though.”

Redshirt-junior quarterback Shai Werts threw for 73 yards in the victory and found a rhythm early in the game.

The GS defense forced two scoreless quarters for the Panthers and had five sacks on senior quarterback Dan Ellington.

Ellington went down with a torn ACL a few weeks ago but played through the injury. He threw for 182 yards but could pull the offense through to a victory.

GS went into the half with a 17-7 lead, but GSU got on the board first. After their scoring drive in the first quarter, the Eagles went on to outscore GSU 38-3.

Before the game, all seventeen of the senior players were honored in a brief ceremony in front of more than 15,000 fans.  

“They’re not quitters, they played their butts off,” Head Coach Chad Lunsford said. “I can’t say enough about them and I can’t say enough about them showing up tonight and getting the job done.”

Though this game was the season finale for the team, the program is waiting for a bowl game announcement from the conference.

No GS senior class has ever been to back-to-back bowls but the team hopes to break this statistic this year.

Lunsford emphasized that he is proud of the team in light of how tough this season has been on and off the field. 

With this victory, GS finished the season 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference. The team finished second in the Sun Belt East Division behind rival Appalachian State, who will compete in the conference championship game against Louisiana.

Amanda Arnold, The George-Anne Sports Editor,