Panthers Outlast Paladins, Win Home Opener
The offense was explosive and the defense made just enough plays to survive as the Georgia State Panthers outlasted the pesky Furman Paladins 48-42 to advance to 2-0 for the first time in school history and send the majority of the 20,351 in attendance home happy. In a game that saw 1104 combined yards from scrimmage, the Panthers were buoyed by an electric performance by QB Dan Ellington, who threw for a career-high 362 yards and school-record 5 touchdowns and added 86 yards on the ground.
Furman came out of the gates firing, jumping out to a 20-3 lead and leaving the Georgia State defense looking for answers. But the Panthers were able to right the ship, rattling off 28 unanswered points to take a 31-20 lead with 7:12 to go in the 3rd quarter. The offenses began trading points from then on and the Paladins went down fighting, with freshman QB Darren Grainger racking up 376 all-purpose yards and 5 total TDs. Furman scored through a Grainger keeper to make it 48-42 with 3:26 to go but were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick. The Paladins got the ball back one last time with 2:18 to go but turned it over on downs, unable to finish the upset.
Ellington’s career night came with help from a balanced set of receivers who spread the big plays around – WRs Cornelius McCoy, Terrance Dixon and Sam Pinckney all had career highs in receptions and yards, with Dixon and Pinckney scoring their first collegiate touchdowns. Tight ends Roger Carter and Aubry Payne both found the end zone and Tra Barnett and Seth Paige continued to be an effective running back tandem, combining for 120 yards on 22 carries.
On defense, senior safety Remy Lazarus came up with a big interception and 57-yard return on a busted Furman trick play. Junior Dontae Wilson had two sacks from his nose guard position and junior linebacker Trajan Stephens-McQueen led the team with 11 tackles. In his first game starting at outside linebacker, Jhi’Shawn Taylor added a sack.
For a third of the game, Georgia State looked as bad as they ever have. For the next third, they looked as good as they ever have. For the final third, they did enough to get across the line and they’re 2-0 for the first time for their efforts. As Coach Elliott put it, ““We faced adversity. We did not fold. We did not flinch. We struck back.” The Panthers next play on Saturday, September 14 at Western Michigan. Kickoff goes at 7pm EDT.