The inaugural FBS game on Friday night for the Georgia State Panthers will give Head Coach Trent Miles and his staff plenty of film to break down over the coming days, as Samford rallied in the second half to hand the Panthers a season-opening loss.
Miles, patrolling the sidelines as GSU’s head coach for the first time, saw his squad give up 24 unanswered points in the second half, as a 14-7 halftime lead vanished and Samford, an FCS member of the Southern Conference, earned their first ever win over a Sun Belt program.
Ronnie Bell got the start and threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns. Albert Wilson recorded the second-best statistical game for a Panther wideout (ever) with his 8 receptions for 167 yards and one touchdown. Kelton Hill also chipped in 54 receiving yards, and more importantly, two scores.
Defensively, Terrance Woodard led the Panthers defense with 10 total tackles, and Demarius Matthews had an interception to go along with five tackles.
“It was a tough start, but I am very proud of our young men. They competed and we’ve got to teach them how to win,” a down, but not defeated Miles said.
“They responded well and didn’t hang their heads. When something went wrong they kept fighting back,” he went on to say.
Bell, who struggled last season with interceptions, 10 in 67 attempts, had two interceptions tonight in 51 attempts, one of which was returned for six points by Jaquiski Tartt. That score tied the game at 14 and provided the spark the Bulldogs needed to secure the comeback.
“He probably played more snaps tonight than he did the whole year last year so that’s a step in the right direction,” Miles said. “But at the same time the mistakes, you know the pick six, that changed the whole momentum.”
The Bulldogs, lead by 193 yards from sixth year quarterback Andy Summerlin, would go on to score 24 unanswered before a late strike by Wilson ended the drought and brought the Panthers back to within 10. Unfortunately, they would get no closer, however, and the Panthers dropped their 24th game in four years of play.
The Panthers return to action at the Dome next Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Chattanooga Mocs, another Southern Conference member, comes to town.