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In the heart of Atlanta a new era has begun. That little plot of land when Henry Aaron drive crosses Georgia avenue will no longer be the destination for Braves baseball in the city. That location is now known as the Georgia State Stadium home of the Panthers.
In thier debut game the team turned a mistake laden (first) game into a nail bitter late.
The defense had its hands full with Tennessee State Tigers quarterback Treon Harris. His dual threat style marched the Tigers into scoring position on four out of their first five drives.
Almost every time the Panthers got a good pass rush on him he dipped and dodged defenders getting to the edge. Harris along with his backfield running mates gashed Georgia State on the ground to the tune of 238 yards.
The Panthers offense conversely looked under seige. Their first four possessions went as followed, fumble, punt, punt and field goal.
The offense couldn’t seem to find running room at all versus the Tigers frontline. Georgia state rushed for 49 yards on 29 carries.
The passing game would produce little support. Conner Manning would finish 15-17 for 159 yards and no touchdowns. Short underneath passes was the story as he had little time on most of his dropbacks and the Tigers defense played a quarters zone most of the game.
With all that being said, the game stayed fairly close for the most part. A 10-3 game at halftime jumped up to 17-3 in the third quarter.
Conner Manning would connect with Ari Wertz for a big 59 yard play. After another Manning pass for a short gain. Aaron Winchester would replace him at quarterback.
Then a sort of musical chairs deal where its Manning for a few plays then Winchester again. Winchester would take over for good at the 4:22 mark of the third quarter and then he made history.
He became the first Georgia state player to throw a touchdown pass in the new stadium finding Taz Bateman for a 33 yard catch and run play. A spark of the bench to say the least, the crowd was now into the game screaming for their beloved Panthers to continue to rally and bring home the win. The defense would hold up giving them three more possessions but ultimately their offensive woes would resurface towards the end of the game. A fumble on their very next possession and an interception on their last (#10 Dajour Nesbitt) would seal their fate.
The Panthers became the first FBS school this season to loose to an FCS school.
Coach Shawn Elliot on his decision to pull Manning, “He got a lil ding on the back of the head, it wasn’t a concussion but he was dizzy and had to come out of the game, didn’t feel like he could go back in. ”
Tennessee state quarterback Treon Harris finished with with 145 passing yards and 96 rushing yards. The former Florida Gator transfered to Tennessee state after a few off field issues and ultimately Florida’s desire to move him to wide reciever.
The Panthers next game will be on September 16th at Penn State