Saturday, September 18, 2021

Charlotte Drops First Road Game of Season at Georgia State

ATLANTA — Georgia State (1-2) won a defensive battle in Atlanta, 20-9, Saturday night at Center Parc Stadium to hand Charlotte (2-1) its first loss of the football season in the 49ers' first road game.

"They made the plays they needed to make to win the game," head coach Will Healy said.  "Missed an opportunity.  Humbled, frustrated, but not deterred. The response for what happened tonight is going to be the most important part."

Charlotte took a 9-7 lead early in the second half after forcing a safety but the Panthers scored the final 13 points to come away with the victory.

Charlotte benefited from two big turnovers in building its lead but their own fumble in the red zone kept GSU within striking distance.

"We missed some opportunities," Healy reiterated. "Credit to them for making it hard on us. (Panther head coach) Shawn (Elliott) did an unbelievable job. They're  0-2 and their backs against the wall."

Chris Reynolds threw a touchdown pass for the eighth straight game to give the 49ers a 7-0 lead in the second quarter but Georgia State answered with its own TD to knot the score by halftime.

The 49ers' TD was set up when Charlotte graduate student safety Jon Alexander, a transfer from Kansas State, chased down Panthers running back Destin Coates and forced a fumble at the five-yard line to stop a Panthers scoring opportunity.

Charlotte responded on the next drive and converted a pair of fourth downs to extend the possession before Reynolds hit freshman Elijah Spencer with a 36-yard crossing TD for the first score of the game.  Kicker Jonathan Cruz connected on the point after, breaking the record for consecutive PAT's made with 47 straight.

GSU answered with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Darren Grainger to Jamari Thrash with 4:03 remaining in the half.

Charlotte's defense came up big again on the Panthers' first drive of the second half.  After a false start on third and one sent GSU back to its 14, a bad snap sent Grainger into the end zone, where he recovered the snap but threw wildly as Kofi Wardlow applied pressure.  The intentional grounding call resulted in a safety and gave Charlotte a 9-7 lead.

After Charlotte failed to convert on 4th down on the ensuing drive, the Panthers took their first lead, 13-9, on a 28-yard pass from Grainger to Ja'Cyais Credle.  DE Markees Watts blocked the PAT to keep Charlotte within four.

Charlotte drove into the red zone late in the third quarter but fumbled to turn the ball over to the Panthers.

Alexander thwarted another promising Panther drive with an INT at the 49ers' 17-yard line early in the 4th quarter but the 49ers were not able to capitalize.

The Panthers scored again in the closing minutes to ice the victory.

Charlotte will host Middle Tennessee in the 49ers' Conference USA opener, Friday at 6:30.

Story courtesy of Charlotte Athletics