ATLANTA – Georgia State fell to Tennessee State 17-10 in the inaugural game at Georgia State Stadium, and the debut for GSU head coach Shawn Elliott.
A crowd of 24,333 filled the former Turner Field, which has been converted into a new home for Georgia State football, but the Panthers (0-1) struggled offensively, hurting themselves with four turnovers.
Tennessee State (1-0) quarterback Treon Harris, the Florida transfer, passed for 145 yards and rushed for 91, including a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter that proved to be the difference.
“We appreciate everyone who came out here tonight, and we appreciate all the effort that went into this,” Elliott said. “It was a great way to open this stadium except for the game itself. And that’s tough.
“You look at our defense, I thought they played their tails off,” Elliott continued. “They went out there and gave us the opportunity to compete, gave us the chance to tie the game. I thought they fought, but they stayed on the field a long, long time. And that’s something that is unacceptable for us, offensively. You look at our stats, I think we rushed for 49 yards today. 49 yards. That’s something that’s hard to do. And four turnovers.”
GSU quarterback Conner Manning completed 14 of 17 passes for 159 yards but left the game in the third quarter due to injury. Taz Bateman caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown an rushed 11 times for 31 yards.
After trailing 10-3 at the half, Georgia State appeared to be driving for the tying score early in the third quarter when Conner Manning’s 59-yard pass to Ari Werts put GSU at the Tennessee State 13. But the Panthers came up short on 4th-and-goal at the 4-yard line by the slimmest of margins.
Two plays later, Seth Rowland broke the through the middle for a 59-yard gain for the Tigers, setting up Harris’ 12-yard touchdown run that put TSU ahead 17-3.
GSU backup quarterback Aaron Winchester found Bateman for a short gain in the flat, and the GSU running back turned it into a 39-yard touchdown, pulling GSU within 17-10 with 11 minutes left.
The Panthers’ defense forced a three-and-out to give Georgia State possession at midfield with nine minutes to go, but GSU fumbled on the next play.
Georgia State had one final chance as the defense held late in the game to force a punt with 1:45 left. The Panthers took over at their own 44, but Winchester was intercepted and Tennessee State ran out the clock.
“We’ll come back out and regroup,” Elliott said. “We’ve got an open date and 17 days to prepare, and we’ll go to work. One win or one loss does not make a season. It’s going to be a tough loss to swallow for the next 17 days. We’ve got to find out what we’re made of, and find out quickly.”
Georgia State plays next on Sept. 16, when the Panthers travel to Penn State for 7 p.m. game on the Big Ten Network.