I didn’t think there was a way that even a winless Georgia Southern team could give away its game against Georgia State, but the Eagles went out of their way to prove me wrong.
Two fourth quarter fumbles by running back Wesley Fields bailed the Panthers out of a precarious position defensively, and a few plays after the second giveaway, State quarterback Conner Manning found receiver Penny Hart in the back corner of the end zone to hand the Eagles the 21-17 loss.
The first three quarters pretty much went how Southern would have wanted it to ideally. The Eagles held the Panthers’ offense out of the end zone for nearly three full quarters until Manning hit tight end Roger Carter for the easy score with 27 seconds left in the third.
This game may have gone Southern’s way if receiver Myles Campbell could have held on to the ball on the first play from scrimmage, but the Panthers had other plans, returning the strip for a score just 17 seconds into the game.
The second half saw State get its passing game on track behind receiver Penny Hart, who was bottled up for most of the first two quarters.
In my preview, I stated that if Southern wanted a chance to win its first game of the season, it would have to stop Hart. One look at his final stat line proves that the Eagles did the exact opposite of that, allowing the wideout to go for 8 catches, 191 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Georgia Southern was not done punching itself in the face however, burning four crucial seconds on the final drive while trying to get the team lined up to spike the ball and stop the clock.
The Eagles took a five-yard false start penalty and burned its final timeout before quarterback Shai Werts was tackled and the clock ran out for good, handing Southern its eighth straight loss this season.
I don’t really know what to take from this game. Georgia Southern’s pass defense looked good until Hart started burning them on deep completions later on in the game, and the offense ranged between anemic and functional before choking the win away for good in the fourth quarter.
The Appalachian State game is decided before either team touches the field on Thursday night, so the Eagles will look to pick up its first win of the year a week later when it hosts South Alabama on Nov. 18.