Panthers run past ULM in conference opener

Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

Georgia State (2-3, 1-0) scored a touchdown on its first possession to start its Western Michigan game and ended up losing by 19. The Panthers began their game against the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) the same way, but stopped ULM (2-3, 0-1) on its opening drive and scored another touchdown immediately. They kept applying pressure and went on to win 46-14.

True freshman Seth Paige and Dan Ellington led the Panthers to a program-record 308 rushing yards with 145 and 108 yards respectively. Paige’s 82-yard touchdown run is the school’s record for longest run from scrimmage. Paige had two rushing scores and Ellington and Tra Barnett each had one.

Paige is the first Georgia State running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing in a game since Glenn Smith did against Texas State on Nov. 17, 2017.

“You always want to get off on a fast start, but it does not always mean the ball game is going to go your way … When an offense and defense can go back to back and then you get up two scores on them, you feel like you are on to something,” head coach Shawn Elliott said.

“The whole mindset changes. It fuels us a little more, and it takes a lot out of them. I do love the fast start, but it continues more after that first drive,” Elliott said.

The defense definitely played off the early energy built and allowed just two scores, none being in the second half. Georgia State’s second half defensive performance was much better than it was in their last three games, and the team had much more energy.

The four takeaways are twice as much as the previous season-high of two against Kennesaw State.

“It was a conference game so we got to come out strong,” sophomore linebacker Victor Heyward said. “Coach Elliott said draw a line in the sand; we just lost three games in a row … let’s go out and get it today. So our focus was a little more [inaudible].”

Early in the second quarter, Ellington threw a pass behind intended target Roger Carter, but Carter focused and grabbed it with one hand, walking in for a four-yard touchdown.

Another Panther who made an impressive play was freshman Chris Bacon, who out-jumped a ULM receiver to make an acrobatic fourth quarter interception.

After the Western Michigan game, Hart said the team needed to demand more out of each other, and he made Ellington think about that last week. The message followed the team and helped them against ULM according to Ellington.

During a team meeting the day before the game, Elliott told the team they need to believe in one another despite the fact that lots of transfers and freshmen make up a bulk of the roster. After he left the room and locked the door, he said to himself, “no way we’re getting beat tomorrow.”

“He talked about trusting each other,” Hart said. “It was pretty evident through the past few games that trust, it wasn’t there as much as it could have been … He just saw it, we all saw it, we all felt it and he just spoke on being able to trust each other.

The Panthers play Troy on Thursday, Oct. 4 in their first road Sun Belt game of the year. Kickoff is at 7:30, and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.