Charlotte held on to beat Georgia State 23-20, Friday evening, giving their 49ers their first win at the FBS level in their inaugural game against an FBS opponent. The victory came at the expense of a Georgia State program still looking for its first win over a top-level opponent, dropping the Panthers to 0-for-23 all-time.
Charlotte opened the scoring with a play straight out of the yakety sax playbook, and the uneven play continued from there. The Niners committed five turnovers, including one on the doorstep of the Georgia State goal line, but survived thanks in large part to poor execution by Georgia State. The Panthers committed three turnovers of their own, converted only three of 15 third downs, missed a 44-yard field goal and, with a chance to snap victory out of the jaws of defeat, watched a last-gasp onside kick head straight out of bounds.
TOUCHDOWN 49ERS (the other 49ers) pic.twitter.com/egiS8HJrwF
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 4, 2015
Matt Johnson completed 19-of-32 passes for 244 yards with a touchdown (and two interceptions) and Kalif Phillips led the ground effort with 90 yards on 19 carries.
Charlotte led 23-6 through three quarters and held on for victory after Nick Arbuckle fired two fourth quarter touchdown passes, the last of which came from 53 yards out to Penny Hart with 30 seconds remaining.
Charlotte, who did not play its first game until 2013, remains (however briefly) undefeated at the FBS level, and figures to remain so for at least another week as the Niners return home to face FCS Presbyterian next Saturday.
Georgia State, meanwhile, has but one win since moving to the Sun Belt in 2013 – a 38-37 squeaker over an Abilene Christian program in its first game transitioning from Division II to FCS on the first night of the 2014 season. And with tonight’s now marked firmly in the ‘L’ column, one has to wonder if the Panthers’ first win over an FBS foe may have to wait until 2016.