Georgia State is no longer a winless FBS football team.
The Panthers beat Abilene Christian 38-37 Wednesday night in college football's season opener after a 26-yard field goal by Will Lutz with four seconds left.
After starting the program in 2010, Georgia State moved up to FBS, the top class of college football in 2013. As members of the Sun Belt Conference, the team promptly went 0-12 in its first FBS season, losing to Samford, Chattanooga, and Jacksonville State, all FCS schools.
Yeah, Abilene Christian is an FCS school, but we're not gong to nitpick. When you're Georgia State and your last win was on October 13, 2012 when you were a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, against the only team (Rhode Island) that you beat that season, it's a pretty big victory.
Georgia State got the ball back with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter to start its game-winning drive after Abilene Christian elected to punt on a 4th-and-2 at its own 47. (In a game that featured some interesting displays of defense and more than 70 total points to that point, you don't have to do much convincing of yourself to believe that going for it would have been a better option.)
The drive almost fell apart before the Panthers got to midfield, however. Facing a 3rd-and-4 at its own 32, 16-game-winless-streak ineptness struck. A holding penalty meant it was 3rd-and-14. After an incomplete pass, a false start turned a 4th-and-14 into a 4th-and-19.
However, what seemed inevitable wasn't. QB Nick Arbuckle found Lynquez Blair for a 24-yard catch and the drive stayed alive as an Arbuckle scramble and quarterback draw put the Panthers in range for the game-winning field goal.
Is it the dream start to a bowl-appearing season? Not likely. Georgia State is going to be overmatched again in the Sun Belt and may not win another game all year. But Wednesday night the Panthers were college football's pre-show to the main openers on Thursday night. And given that the game featured some fun, some drama and most importantly a win to end a 16-game losing streak, it was a successful act.
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