The rain was no match as Georgia State football defeated Army 28-21

Aubrey Payne runs toward the end zone during Saturday night’s win against Army. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Light but persistent rain may have prevented many fans from coming out to the game, but for those who did brave the elements, they were not disappointed, as a last-minute interception sealed a dramatic 28-21 win for Georgia State.

The beginning of the game started with both teams opening drive ending on failed aggressive play calls.

The Panthers’ opening drive went to Army’s 44-yard line, but they failed to convert on a fourth-down play.

The Black Knights, mirroring Georgia State, had the ball on the Panthers’ 43-yard line but failed to convert a fake punt attempt and turned the ball over on downs.

Dan Ellington and his offense responded and found themselves in the end zone soon after. Wide receiver Sam Pickney received a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ellington to take a 7-0 lead with 7:47 to go in the first. The senior finished the game 20-28 with 232 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Black Knights’ potent option-style offense found a response to level the score a seven before the first quarter came to an end.

The second quarter saw mistakes made by both teams, mainly due to rainy conditions. A costly Ellington fumble in the red zone ruined a promising drive.

The Black Knights followed suit with a fumble of their own. Victor Heyward stripped running back Jakobi Buchanan and Remy Lazarus recovered. 

Pinckney caught another touchdown on the ensuing drive. The received climbed over the Black Knights defender to make a spectacular catch at the 7:41 mark. 

Not to be outdone, the Knights answered. This time running back Sandon McCoy rushed for eight yards, tying the game at 14 before halftime. 

As the Knights received the second-half kickoff, they set the tone early, eating up 6:43. With the ball on the Panthers’ 16, the Knights called a reverse which fooled Shawn Elliott’s defense. Wide receiver Jalen Moy rushed home to give the Knights their first lead of the game.

After Tra Barnett got his name on the scoresheet, a missed points-after-attempt by standout kicker Brandon Wright left the Panthers behind 21-20.

The fourth quarter proved to be the deciding factor in this game. Barnett continued to feed off the aggressive play of the Panthers’ offensive line leading them into Army territory. Ellington finished the drive, this time finding Aubrey Payne for his third touchdown of the night. A successful two point conversion put the Panthers ahead 28-20 with 7:41 to go in regulation.

The Black Knights fought hard, but the clock was their ultimate enemy.

As Knights quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. dropped back to pass, cornerback Quavian White intercepted him, halting any chance of a comeback.

Tra Barnett put the nail in the coffin. The senior rushed for a key first down to rush Army hearts and give the Panthers another historic win.

“The effort and the toughness that we had tonight that we had to go out there and defeat this Army team was a joy to watch,” Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott said.

“For our defense to stay the course, do what they needed to do, make the play in the end was just special to watch. What a great victory!”

For Barnett, the offensive line was a standout.

“I want to give credit to my O-line,” Barnett said. “With them, they make everything more easier. I had a lot of faith in them going into this game. I feel like our O-line was better going up against them.”

Barnett finished with 17 carries, rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown. He tied Kyle Neil for a Georgia State record. It was the senior’s 13th 100-yard rushing performance.

Despite the weather conditions, Ellington finished with three touchdowns while also finding three different receivers.

“They play a lot of one-on-one outside coverages with their corners, and I trust my receivers to win the 50-50 battle 100 percent of the time,” Ellington said.

The Panthers will host the Troy Trojans next Saturday and are one win away from being bowl eligible for the third time in school history.


Takeaways From Panthers Win Over Army

The Panthers’ 28-21 win over the Army Black Knights improved their overall record to 5-2 on the season and puts them one win away from bowl eligibility.


The Defense Is Rapidly Improving

Four games into the season, the defense knew they needed to improve in order to get better and put the team in better positions to win. It is hard to prepare and beat an Army option offense and they showed they are capable at being physical, controlling the line of scrimmage and making necessary plays in order to win.


Tra Barnett Is Feasting

For the third consecutive week, Barnett rushed for over 100 yards and continues to be a major part in the Panthers ground game. His performance Saturday tied a school record for most touchdowns by a running back in Georgia State history. If Barnett continues to play at a high level like this, not only will he break school records, he may be in contention or the conversation for Sun Belt player of the year.


The Offensive Line Continues To Show Out 

Everything on offense begins with the offensive line and they continue to do their job at a high level. Ellington did not get sacked in this contest and the running game continues to open up the playbook. The young offensive line is only getting better.


Georgia State Took Care of the Ball

The Panthers had one turnover for the game. Although Ellington will be credited for the turnover, coach Elliott states that the turnover did not happen due to conditions but because Ellington was too quick with the snap. In a game with rain, wind and cold, mistakes are bound to happen but the Panthers were comfortable and were not limited.


Brandon Wright Must Improve 

One of the best kickers in the Sun Belt and the nation missed an extra point Saturday which could of been crucial if the Panthers were in a high pressure situation. As long as Wright remains confident, everything will be okay for the Panther.