The classic “Na na na na na na/ hey, hey, hey/ goodbye!” chant cascaded from the visitor’s section at the end of Thursday’s game at the Georgia Dome, as South Carolina State blew Georgia State out on and off the field.
Not only did the Bulldogs embarrass the Panthers with a 33-6 score, but their fans and band were twice as loud as Georgia State’s, despite being the away team.
“Their band was impressive,” said junior Hugo Moreno, a Georgia State student who attended the game. “They came in and took over the Dome.”
Prior to the game, Georgia State’s crowd was the louder one, as 18,921 expectant fans-including a packed student section-cheered nonstop.
Also, many tailgates were organized at the Orange and Brown parking lots outside of the Dome.
“I expected a win from our team,” Moreno said. “They had it all -the support, the crowd, the cheers and home advantage. Therefore, I expected a great performance.”
But with just one minute into the game, South Carolina State’s wide receiver Lennel Elmore set the mood by catching a 72-yard touchdown.
As Georgia State’s fans saw get their team get smashed on the field, their energy died.
By the third quarter’s waning minutes, the student section was almost empty.
“I simply lost interest in the game,” Moreno said. “After you, as a fan, give it all you got by cheering and your team is not responding, you get aggravated.”
He said that the most interesting aspect of the game was the atmosphere.
“Honestly, I was watching the band members from each side perform and the fireworks,” he said.
Head coach Bill Curry talked about the fans leaving the game at the postgame conference.
“If we want students to stay, then we got to play well and get them to stay,” Curry said.
Running back Donald Russell recognized the team’s mistakes, but chose to stay positive and not let the fans’ disappointment affect him.
“It’s definitely something I don’t think about,” he said. “We’re going to change and make sure they stay all four quarters next time.”
Although Moreno thinks that “GSU needed to play their hearts out on that field” against South Carolina State, he said that he would give the Panthers one more chance and go to their next home game. He said he’s hopeful for some fans to keep attending.
“I believe there will be a very small portion of the student body and alumni that will keep attending their games,” he said.
Russell and Curry agreed that in order to get fans back on the stands, the team’s offense will have to be sharper.
“We just have to work on finishing and we have to make big plays,” Russell said. “I see ourselves making that change soon.”
“When we get in the red zone, we have to score,” Curry added. “And we just didn’t do that.”
Russell is hopeful for Georgia State’s future fan base, as he believes the program will grow.
“Before you know it, they (the fans) are going to be filling up the whole Georgia Dome after a while,” he said