The most recent edition of the Modern Day Hate Rivalry ended with Georgia State sneaking past Georgia Southern 21-17 thanks to a Penny Hart touchdown catch with 2:33 to go in the 4th. The Panthers have gifted the ball deep in Eagle territory after they fumbled on their own 31. It was the third Eagle turnover on the day.
Georgia State moves to 3-1 all-time in the young rivalry, #StateNotSouthern retains the belt for one more year. The Panthers are now 3rd place in the Sun Belt and have won 5 of 6. For Shawn Elliott, the former App State player/coach, beating Georgia Southern in Paulson Stadium must have tasted extra sweet.
It was the best game that Georgia Southern had played all year (low bar to clear), but turnovers, penalties, and mental errors continue to cost this team big. This is an Eagle team that has rapidly deteriorated from one of the best G5 teams in the country to the absolute worst in a matter of two seasons.
Conner Manning passed for 319 yards and 2 TDs, with 1 INT. Penny Hart terrorized the Eagles secondary just as I expected to the tune of 191 yards on eight catches with a TD. RB Glenn Smith had 106 all-purpose yards on 19 touches.
Shai Werts completed 22/28 for 147 yards and added 63 yards on the ground on 15 carries. The Eagles only managed 189 yards rushing on 50 attempts; they never had a run longer than 20 yards all game. Malik Henry, Obe Fortune, and Myles Campbell did most of the heavy lifting through the air for the Eagles.
I love Chad Lunsford. I think he has the personality, the charisma, and the experience to be a successful head coach. If I’m revisionist, if Lunsford had replaced Tyson Summers last December instead, this season might have been entirely different. Who knows? We might be bowl eligible or close to it.
But Lunsford can’t undo all the damage that was done by his predecessor. It’s almost as if Tyson Summers were a virus that had infected the entire Georgia Southern program and Lunsford is a bowl of chicken noodle soup to make GS feel better. At this point, it is about managing the symptoms and getting a victory or two by the end of the year.
I don’t expect miracles. Bad teams develop bad habits early. It starts in the spring. There just isn’t enough time to make wholesale changes. I lay the responsibility for this loss solely on the Georgia Southern athletic department. Georgia Southern has gotten its ass handed to it by Georgia State in the “Rivalry Series” every year since Tom Kleinlein and Charlie Cobb came up with the idea.
Meanwhile, Georgia State is a win away from bowl eligibility. Georgia State continues to be the road warriors of the Sun Belt, 4-1 record away from home. If we skip 2016 and look back at 2015, Georgia State’s last bowl-eligible team, that team went 4-2 on the road.
They’re eligible for what I call the “Tampa Bay Rays Effect” as in, a team that likes playing on the road more than at home because the crowds are larger on the road. I hope that Panther alumni start showing up to Petit “Old Ted” Field to support Georgia State, I know they exist, I see y’all everywhere.
While they will surely enjoy a trip to a bowl game, Georgia Southern will continue to search for their next head coach. The University announced a search committee Friday. For more analysis, stay tuned to Forgotten5.com.