Eagles fall to Georgia State 34-7

Hayden Boudreaux

Needing a win to become bowl eligible, the Georgia State Panthers entered Paulson Stadium full of vinegar and stayed that way for the rest of the contest. While many wouldn’t call it a rivalry, it looks like it certainly could move in that direction as the Panthers took down the Eagles 34-7.

Georgia State was fired up as they took the field and seemingly was taunting the opposing Eagle players. After great kick coverage, the Panthers were forced to start their drive from the ten yard line. The Eagle defense looked solid but Georgia State kept breaking away a medium range play to keep the drive alive. After driving fifty yards, an errant pass over the middle was picked off by Eagle safety Matt Dobson and returned to midfield. A holding penalty gave the offense a long first drive and they were held to a three and out.

Each team then traded three and outs again, with the Eagle offense struggling to get started after two consecutive drives without a first down. The Panthers pick up one first down on their ensuing drive, but they are forced to punt yet again. The next Eagle possession saw the first conversion of the game, but they were held to a stop on their next set of downs. A punt pinned the Panthers back at their own 15 as time expired in the first quarter. Georgia State was able to shrug off the bad field position and hook up on a 63 yard touchdown pass to give them the first points of the game.

Now trailing, the Eagles went on an 8 play 63 yard march down the field as they were helped out by two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties from Georgia State. From the one yard line, L.A. Ramsby plunged into the end zone for the score to tie things up, 7-7. The Panther’s ensuing drive was cut short by a huge nine yard sack from Eagle defensive lineman Ryan George to force a three and out. With the ball back, the Eagles manage to convert on an early fourth down and one to keep the drive alive. Ellison then fired a 17 yard completion out to B.J Johnson, which set up a 37 yard field goal attempt from Koo that couldn’t find the uprights.

The Panthers were held to another three and out which gave possession back to the Eagle with time winding down in the first half. A third down defensive holding penalty kept the Eagles in business, which was followed by a 20 yard completion from Ellison to Johnson. Offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties came on the next play, which resulted in the ejection of a Panther cornerback. Ellison’s next pass towards the end zone was picked off and returned up the right sideline where another flag was thrown. The call was Georgia State’s fifth unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game. The Panthers kneeled down the ball to end the half.

With things tied up and emotions at their peak going into half time, the Eagles came out on their first drive ready to get things going back in their favor. After picking up a first down, the Eagles failed to convert on third down and were forced to punt. The Panthers came out swinging on their first drive as they picked up two twenty yards play, one on the ground and one through the air. Two more passes would put the Panthers in the endzone to give them their second lead of the game. A failed conversion attempt left them ahead, 13-7 with 9:57 remaining in the third quarter.  

Eagle fans were waiting for the retaliatory score from the Eagle offense but it didn’t come. The Eagles began to move the ball but a holding penalty resulted in a 3rd and 18 that stalled the drive. Georgia State got possession again and made the most of it. They worked down the field quickly in four big plays that ended in a four yard touchdown pass to extend the Panther lead. The Eagles trailed 20-7 with five minutes left in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, Georgia Southern knew they were running out of opportunities. Favian Upshaw was in the game at quarterback and was able to lead the offense into picking up a couple first downs but a critical review on a fourth down pass attempt ended the drive and the building momentum.  

The Panthers kept things going as they took another long march down the field. They were able to convert a crucial third and inches to give them the ball at the one yard line of the Eagles as time expired in the third quarter. The 9 play, 56 yard drive ended with a plunge into the endzone to give the Panthers a three score lead, 27-7 with 14:14 remaining. The next Eagle possession opened up with a sack that dropped Ellison ten yards back, followed by an incomplete pass, making it third and 20. The Eagles were forced to punt and the Panthers continued their offensive dominance. Georgia State marched down the field and a 45 yard completion set them up for another score. This gave the Panthers a 34-7 advantage with 8:31 remaining in the game.

Things didn’t improve for the Eagles as their next drive was cut short by an interception from Ellison. The Panthers picked up their sixth unsportsmanlike conduct on the drive on the fifth different player. Georgia State used their slow run game to grind down the clock and put the win out of reach for the Eagles.