Georgia State football head coach Shawn Elliott didn't hold back when speaking with reporters postgame following a heartbreaking 34-24 loss at Auburn on Saturday.
Specifically, Elliott implied that the SEC officiating crew favored Auburn when it upheld a catch that appeared to be incomplete en route to the Tigers' game-winning touchdown.
"They had a little bit of help on that review where the ball was incomplete," Elliott said, per ESPN's Alex Scarborough.
"It should have been put back on the 30-yard line. But you know when you play in the SEC you gotta take the hits. And they gave us a real gut punch on that call. So we appreciate that."
Auburn was losing 24-19 when it earned a 1st-and-10 from the Georgia State 30-yard line with 1:13 remaining. Tigers quarterback T.J. Finley then fired a pass to John Samuel Shenker for a first down at the Georgia State 11-yard line.
The play went to review, and it appeared that the ball deflected off the grass before Shenker controlled the pass. Patrick Greenfield of AL.com provided a replay of the controversial sequence.
The call on the field stood, however. Four plays later, Finley found Shedrick Jackson on a 4th-and-9 for the game-winning touchdown and 25-24 lead.
Auburn got the two-point conversion for the 27-24 edge, but Georgia State still had a shot with 45 seconds left. It wasn't meant to be, though, as Smoke Monday returned an interception for a touchdown and the eventual 34-24 win.
It was undoubtedly a gut-punch of a loss for Georgia State, but the Panthers still played an incredible game. Elliott was proud of his team's effort and specifically praised the defense.
"They controlled the line of scrimmage," Elliott said. "They controlled the passing attack. What a great defensive performance."
He added: "I hurt for them because they put so much energy and effort into it. It's a gut-wrenching thing."
The No. 23 Tigers improved to 3-1 with the win. Georgia State fell to 1-3.