Over 30,000 fans were in attendance Thursday night in the Georgia Dome to witness history, as the Georgia State Panthers (1-0) defeated the NAIA Shorter Hawks 41-7 in GSU's first ever football game.
A big offensive night for Georgia State began midway through the first quarter, as redshirt freshman running back Parris Lee took a handoff four yards in for the first touchdown in program history. The score capped an 11-play, 63-yard drive to begin the game.
Starting quarterback Drew Little, another redshirt freshman, threw GSU's first ever passing touchdown during the second quarter. The four-yard pass to tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi completed the second of three-straight scoring drives during the quarter for the Panthers, the others ending with Iain Vance field goals of 22 and 18 yards.
Lee and Little were at it again in the second half, with Lee scoring on a 10-yard run in the third quarter and Little connecting with receiver Jordan Giles on a 16-yard pattern for a fourth quarter touchdown. Backup quarterback Kelton Hill broke off a 24-yard touchdown run with eight seconds remaining in the game to complete the offensive display.
Little finished the game 13 of 17 passing for 135 yards with the two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Lee, listed as the third-string running back on the Panther's probable depth chart, led the team in rushing attempts and yards, displaying excellent quickness and change-of-direction skills in picking up 62 yards and his two touchdowns on eight carries. The offense, playing together in a game situation for the very first time, did not turn the ball over on the night.
The Georgia State defense didn't embarrass itself either, holding Shorter's triple-option offense to seven points and 263 total yards. GSU did not record any sacks or interceptions against the run-heavy scheme but did recover a fumble that set up the Panthers' second touchdown drive.
Shorter's lone touchdown came on their first drive of the fourth quarter. GSU outside linebacker Jake Muasau, a junior transfer from Phoenix College, was extremely active throughout the night and finished with five solo tackles.
Georgia State hopes to capitalize on the momentum of their historic first win, as they move on to play a more challenging FCS schedule, including a game against Old Dominion of the Colonial Athletic Association, the conference in which GSU will be playing beginning in 2012. The Panthers' schedule is capped with a daunting trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to play the defending FBS National Champions on November 18.
Bill Curry is the man responsible for leading Georgia State this season and laying the program's foundation over the last two years. The 1985 ACC Coach of the Year at Georgia Tech and 1989 SEC Coach of the Year at Alabama has built the team from two recruiting classes and a sizable group of transfers and walk-ons.
One such transfer, Star Jackson from the University of Alabama, was expected by most Georgia State fans to win the starting quarterback job immediately and keep it throughout his three remaining years of eligibility.
He was listed as a co-possible starter along with Little and Hill coming into the game, but was the only one of the three quarterbacks to not play a down on Thursday. Look for him to earn more playing time as he gains a better grasp on the offense.
The Georgia State Panthers continue their first season of football September 11 against Lambuth in the Georgia Dome.