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Georgia State’s 31-21 win over Coastal Carolina meant more than just a win

Dan Ellington breaks off on a run during Saturday’s game against Coastal Carolina. Photo Courtesy of Todd Drexler

The roller coaster season continues. After dropping two straight games, the Panthers have turned around their recent form and won two straight, improving to 4-2 on the season and inching ever closer to a potential bowl birth.

After an explosive offensive output over the Arkansas State Wolves last week, the Panthers kept their momentum going when they traveled to South Carolina and defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers by a score of 31-21.

Panthers quarterback Dan Ellington and the running back duo of Tra Barnett and Seth Paige were the stars in this game, as they combined to rush for a school-record 350 yards. Coming off their stellar victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves, the matchup represented another critical Sun Belt Conference game on the road for Shawn Elliott’s men. 

Ayn Rand Conference 2019

However, the Chanticleers were looking to avoid losing consecutive games and create a winning streak of their own at Brooks Stadium, a place where the team was undefeated entering Saturday’s game.

The opening possessions from both sides were understandably slow, as the feel out process began with two quick three-and-outs.

On the Chanticleers second offensive possession of the game, Panthers safety Remy Lazarus forced a fumble out of Chanticleers quarterback Fred Payton. Defensive end Terry Thomas recovered the fumble and helped give the offense great field position on the Chanticleers’ 44-yard line.

The Panthers took advantage of the turnover as Brandon Wright’s 38-yard field goal was good to take an early three point lead.

The Chanticleers responded on the ensuing possession by matching the Panthers with a field goal of their own. This time, Massimo Biscardi answered his opposite number with a  38-yard field goal of his own to tie the game at three.

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The next Panthers offensive possession resulted in a turnover as Ellington was intercepted by Chanticleers safety Alex Spillum. While the senior did not have his best day through the air, throwing for only 122 yards, his impact on the ground would soon put any worries to rest.

This resulted in another Chanticleers field goal by Biscardi, whose 21-yard chip shot snuck through the uprights. The Chanticleers, as a result, took a 6-3 into the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was all Georgia State. Running back Seth Paige got things off to a flying start, as he broke loose for a 46-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers the lead at 10-6.

On the next Panthers possession, the offense went 70-yards in 15 plays, which Ellington polished off with a three-yard touchdown pass to Cornelius McCoy. The receiver finished his day with four catches for only 12 yards, but the all-important receiving touchdown. 

As the half came to a close, Elliott’s men, who have struggled on the road this season, confidently strolled into the locker rooms with a 17-6 lead. The defense, arguably for the first time this season, was truly dominating.

Opening the second half, the Chanticleers responded quickly. This time, it was  Chanticleers quarterback Bryce Carpenter that exerted his dominance, finding Jaivon Heiligh for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the Panthers’ lead to four.

The Panthers’ offense was having none of it, though, as they continued their explosive play into the third quarter. They quickly responded to the touchdown with one of their own, as running back Tra Barnett got his name on the score sheet with a 28-yard touchdown, putting the Panthers back in front 24-13. The senior recorded another 100-yard rushing performance, finishing Saturday’s contest with 110 yards.

On the ensuing Chanticleers possession, Elliott’s defense recorded a big three-and-out, and furthered the team’s momentum.

Tra Barnett finished off the following drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown to extend the lead to 31-13. The Panthers silenced the home crowd.

The strong third quarter performance proved to be the difference in the matchup, as the Chanticleers had a mountain to climb in quarter number four if they had any shot of a comeback.

A late fourth quarter score by Coastal Carolina made the score 31-21, but the clock struck zero and handed the Panthers a solid victory soon after.

 

Takeaways

 

The Running Game Is Making the Offense Unstoppable

When speaking with senior offensive lineman Hunter Atkinson before their game against the Red Wolves of Arkansas State, he stated that he wanted to make sure that the team would be physical and run the football even more. 

Lately the Panthers have been on a roll, doing just that as they rushed for over 300 yards in their past two games, breaking school records in the process.

The team broke their record for total rushing yards for the second straight week, this time combining for 350 yards on the ground. It was also the first time in program history that three different players rushed for over 100 yards. 

 

The Panthers Are Settling In

The opening road games were tough for Elliott’s men, but as the season has progressed, they have been able to get back to doing what they do best.

As aforementioned, the running game is coming on strong and Ellington’s leadership has been a major difference. The dual threat quarterback is quickly making a name for himself in both the conference and the nation. 

As the Sun Belt play continues, the team’s newfound momentum could be a key in fighting for a title and bowl appearance.

 

Confidence Boost For Army Game 

The Panthers needed this win not only for their overall confidence, but so they can be mentally and physically prepared as they host the Army Knights Saturday, who will present another massive out of conference challenge. 

The game will be the team’s second night game of the season and the Panthers know what they are up against. 

 

Tra Barnett Is A Force

In Barnett’s last two games, he has rushed for over 100 yards and is proving to be a major key in the Panther’s offense. 

We saw this early in the season opener against Tennessee and saw glimpses of him having these types of games last season. Should he continue his form, Barnett will continue to be a big problem for opposing defenses.