Georgia Southern almost led wire to wire. Almost. With 1:37 left in the game, NC State would do what felt like the inevitable and take the lead for good.
It wasn't that Georgia Southern wasn't deserving of a win. For much of the game, the Eagles appeared to be the better team. Matt Breida had a 61-yard touchdown scamper in the opening minutes of the game. Quarterback Kevin Ellison put up an even 300 yards of total offense on his own. But as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, Georgia Southern didn't seem to play to win. They were fighting to not lose.
After scoring 20 points in the first half, the Eagles would settle for two field goals in the second, one from the NC State 2 yard line. Play became sloppy, as Ellison bobbled snaps and handoffs, and multiple defenders went down with cramps and injuries.
Once the game entered the fourth quarter, NC State's Jacoby Brissett could do no wrong. In the final quarter alone he led touchdown drives of 99 and 75 yards, finishing the game with 291 yards.
In the end, this outcome is nothing Georgia Southern should be ashamed of. Despite a rough season last year, NC State is a decent team. Even if the Eagles had taken more risk in the closing moments, it may not have panned out. But this is their new reality. They've come from the lower division and beaten FBS teams before, but now they are an FBS team. A conservative approach won't sustain them in their new conference.