Rivalry match-ups bring out the best in teams regardless of their record. Georgia Southern ended Georgia State’s two-game winning streak defeating the Panthers 35-14 on the final game of the regular season.

The 2-9 Panthers battled their 8-3 rivals to a scoreless first with an active defense that kept the Eagles’ high-powered triple option at bay. “I thought our defense came out and played well in the first half and kept us within striking distance,” said Panthers Head Coach Shawn Elliott.

Georgia Southern finally broke through with a quick strike in the middle of the second quarter. Shari Werts did the unexpected. The red-shirt sophomore reared back and tossed a perfect strike to Darion Anderson for a 38-yard touchdown.

Werts hit on another big play touchdown finding Colby Ransom for a 58-yarder. On the day, Werts accounted for 180 yards of offense including a touchdown on the grown and two through the air.

“We have those calls in our playbook,” said Werts. “I feel like people often get us with the whole triple option stuff and we don’t throw the ball and they kind of sleep on us.”

Eagles special teams thwarted the Panthers’ first attempt to get on the board. Brandon Wright’s 47-yard field goal attempt was blocked by red-shirt sophomore inside linebacker Rashad Byrd and recovered by Monquavion Brinson with less than a minute to play in the first half.

Brinson’s return set up a last-second 49-yard field goal by Tyler Bass.

Defense and special teams again made the difference holding the Panthers in check through the third. The Panthers attempted to catch the Eagles off-guard with an onside kick to open the half but the front lines were alert falling on the ball to give the visitors possession at midfield. “We took a chance with the onside kick in the second half, we said all week if we got a look we were going to take it and the ball didn’t get the bounce like we thought,” admitted Elliott.

Elliott’s miscalculation gave the Eagles a short field. Eight plays later, Werts stood in the end zone and the Eagles had a 21-0 lead.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Panthers quarterback Dan Ellington used his strong arm to put the Panthers on the board. The junior college transfer engineered an 18-play scoring drive that started on their 10-yard line. Ellington threaded a strike to a sliding Devin Gentry for the Panthers’ first touchdown of the game.

Wesley Fields broke off a dazzling 63-yard touchdown run in response. His touchdown was enough to make any attempt at a comeback unattainable.

The win assured the Eagles of a bowl bid when the selection committee sits down in a week. It will be their first bowl game since 2015 when the Eagles defeated Bowling Green 58-27.

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All photos and videos by Jason McDonald, CORE360 Sports

2018: GA Southern - Georgia State