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What we learned from Georgia State’s heartbreaking loss to Texas State

Sam Pinckney takes off after making a catch in the Texas State football game. Photo submitted by Georgia State Athletes

Terry Thomas fell to his knees. As Joshua Roland’s field goal went through the uprights, sending the hosts into a jubilant celebration, the Panthers were left dejected. Brandon Wright, who entered the game with a perfect field goal record, missed two key attempts in the second and third overtime periods, helping to seal the team’s unfortunate fate.

“Certainly a very disappointing, disappointing ball game,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “Everyone laid it out on the line and gave great effort, but we came up short. Tough situation to be in. A very tough loss for us.” 

Saturday night’s conference opener against Texas State did not come out the way the team expected. 

Ayn Rand Conference 2019

The game was a nail-biter, as the Panthers battled hard, but lost in the triple overtime, 37-34. 

After their strong start to the season, including the historic victory over Tennessee, Saturday’s loss extended the Panthers’ losing streak to two games. At best, the loss has eliminated the progress the team made in its first two weeks and set it back to square one. Now, the Panthers will be in a dogfight to reclaim their early season form and get into a Bowl game.

Although it was a tough loss, the Panthers have many things to take away and learn from. With Arkansas State coming to town for the team’s Oct. 5 Homecoming Game, the Panthers will have a couple of weeks to rest up and prepare for what will be another must-win conference grudge match.

 

Defense Still Needs Improvement

Wake Forest University

Coming into this game, the Bobcats were searching for their first win of the season and knew that for that to happen, they needed to establish a running game. 

The Panthers’ defense allowed 205 rushing yards, as the unit was torn to shreds on the ground for the second week in a row. 

The Panthers’ defense is their greatest weakness, and it has shown in the past three games, specifically in their last two road defeats. 

“We’re not stopping the run, and that’s disappointing,” Elliott said. “In this day and age, you’ve got to run the football and stop the run.”

The run defense must be adjusted and improved; otherwise, the Panthers could be in major trouble as they continue in conference play.

The upcoming home matches against the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Army Black Knights will be massive tests. 

 

Offense Remains Strong

Luckily for the Panthers, their offense keeps them in games. It was no different in Saturday’s defeat. They remained balance, passing for 213 yards and rushing for 207, with Destin Coates stealing the show and earning some big minutes. 

The team outgained the Bobcats in total yardage 420-334 but needed to find the end zone in critical situations to come out with the win. A costly third quarter fumble in the red zone was no help. If certain plays went the Panthers’ way, the team would have returned home with a 3-1 record.

 

Special Teams Need Work

After the Panthers won against Furman, head coach Shawn Elliott said he liked the play of special teams, but thought they could use improvements. In this game, special teams cost the team a win. Rowland and Wright traded field goal misses in overtime, before the former nailed the game-winner in the third overtime period. 

 

Panthers Have Heart But Starting To Feel Pressure

This year’s team has shown a lot of heart and grit and fought through some adversity through its first few weeks of play. 

As the team continues its development, learning how to win and grow, it has had its moments. The team has been hit in the mouth and had to do a lot of soul searching to stay in certain games. 

With these last two losses now a thing of the past, it is important that the team does not lose focus or motivation as the season progresses. 

All the Panthers need is one more win to eclipse last season’s win total and revive its fight for a chance at the Sun Belt and bowl eligibility.

 

Ellington Continues To Lead

As the quarterback of a potent offense, Dan Ellington continued to show how tough he is and willing to risk everything for the team. He completed 65.7% of his passes, with three touchdowns and one interception. 

His play this season has shed light on his true value not only to the offense, but to the team as well. His leadership on the field has been impressive to watch and he continues to help the Panthers be successful on both sides of the ball. 

This bye-week should be helpful in ensuring that he is 100% healthy and focused on continuing the rest of the season playing at a high level.

 

Sam Pickney and Cornelius McCoy Are Future Stars

Pickney and McCoy were on the receiving end of Ellington’s touchdown passes and have shown all season long that they are the playmakers for the Panthers. It helps when Ellington and the offense has two reliable, go-to receivers in clutch moments. Although they may get overlooked at times, they are the future for the Panthers and will be a force to be reckoned with within the Sun Belt.

 

Final Verdict: Don’t Lose Faith Just Yet

Before the season began, the Panthers may have been satisfied, had they known they would be sitting on a 2-2 record.

While defeat in the team’s conference opener is no help to their overall aspirations, the team is still on-track to have a decent season.

These next games against Arkansas State and Coastal Carolina will determine whether or not the team is legit. Was the Tennessee victory a fluke? Only time will tell.