LAFAYETTE, LA. –Playing without starting quarterback Dan Ellington, Georgia State fell to Louisiana 36-22 on Saturday night at Cajun Field.

Georgia State (2-8, 1-5 Sun Belt) trailed just 16-14 entering the fourth quarter before the Louisiana (5-5, 3-3 Sun Belt) scored 20 straight points to put the game out of reach.

“We couldn’t slow their backs down,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “We have a lot of fight in us. There’s a lot of doggone heart out there and a lot of effort, but we’ve got to find some solutions. A couple of drives we’d like to have back and contain that running back a little bit.”

Elliington, the Panthers’ leading passer and rusher, sat out the game after spending the week in concussion protocol. Aaron Winchester went 10-of-21 for 121 yards through the air, while also rushing 14 times for 51 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown.

Tra Barnett led the Panthers on the ground with 82 yards on 15 touches, while Demarcus Kirk added 79 yards on nine rushes. Cornelius McCoy led Georgia State with a pair of catches for 60 yards.

Trailing 13-0, Georgia State got on the scoreboard late in the first half as Winchester directed a 10-play, 92-yard drive that lasted more than five minutes. Winchester hit McCoy for 45 yards and a first down at the Louisiana 40, then on 4 th-and-4, he again connected with the freshman McCoy for 15 yards to the 19.

The Panthers faced another fourth down with less than a minute to play in the half. It appeared GSU would settle for a field goal, but after a timeout, Winchester found Gentry in the corner of the end zone for the 13-yard touchdown to pull the Panthers within 13-7 just 14 seconds before the intermission.

After allowing a Louisiana field goal in the third quarter, Georgia State answered with another long touchdown drive, keyed by Kirk. The senior running back had runs of 12 and 13 yards, and then finished the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run to pull the Panthers within 16-14 with 1:46 to play in the third quarter.

Kirk’s 79 yards are his highest total since setting his career high of 85 yards, also against Louisiana in 2015. The Panthers finished with 252 yards rushing, giving them a total of 753 yards over the last three games.

“I’m pleased with the running game,” Elliott said. “You see some great runs out there, like DeMarcus Kirk laying it on the line and doing the things necessary to be successful. I’m really proud of him.”

A late interception thrown by Winchester is the first interception thrown by either GSU quarterback in more than five games, a span of 181 consecutive pass attempts.

Raymond Calais led Louisiana with 13 rushes for 186 yards, while Elijah Mitchell added 136 yards rushing on 19 carries. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the day with 355 rushing yards, but 223 of those yards came on six carries as the Panthers continue to struggle to contain big plays.

Georgia State plays its second straight road game next Saturday at Appalachian State in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Kidd-Brewer Stadium, televised on ESPN+.