ATLANTA, Ga. – East Carolina scored a defensive touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage Saturday afternoon, but Georgia State ran off 28 unanswered points on the way to a 49-29 non-conference victory at Center Parc Stadium.  
The contest marked the first meeting between the Pirates and Panthers on the gridiron and the first appearance in Atlanta for ECU since it famously defeated NC State in the 1992 Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.  
It was tough sledding for the Pirates on the ground as they mustered just 50 yards on 26 carries. Conversely, Georgia State racked up 247 rushing yards, finishing with 486 total after Cornelius Brown completed 18 of 28 pass attempts for 238 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions. Junior quarterback Holton Ahlers ended his day 29 of 50 for 242 yards, no touchdowns and three picks.  
East Carolina did not score an offensive touchdown in the game, receiving one score from the defense and two from its special teams squad. The Pirates finished the day with 292 total yards, their lowest output since a 222-yard performance last season in a 42-10 loss to Navy in Annapolis.  
Destin Coates was the Panthers’ leading rusher, enjoying a two-touchdown performance while garnering 113 yards on 23 carries. His effort was complemented by a seven-catch, 134-yard and two-touchdown showing by Sam Pinckney.   
Sophomore receiver Tyler Snead posted a team-high 111 receiving yards for ECU – the fourth 100-yard receiving effort of his young career.  
As in last week’s showdown with then No. 13 UCF, East Carolina put up the first points of the day. With Georgia State at its own 25-yard line after an opening kickoff touchback, Warren Saba stepped in front of a Panther receiver and took the ball to the endzone to put the Pirates on top 7-0.  
A 43-yard rush by Terrance Dixon on the ensuing drive put the Panthers in business before Coates ran it in from 13 yards out two plays later to knot the score. Brown then found Pinckney and Jamari Thrash for 38 and 22-yard touchdown tosses that pushed the margin to 21-7 with the game not even eight minutes old.  
Greg Tucker added to the home team’s advantage with a four-yard touchdown run with 12:45 remaining in the second quarter before junior placekicker Jake Verity knocked through a 34-yard field goal to stop the Georgia State scoring run and cut the Pirates’ deficit to 28-10. Pinckney then grabbed his second touchdown reception of the half with 5:26 on the clock and Verity answered with a 40-yard field goal at the buzzer to leave GSU with a 35-13 lead at the half.  
The Panthers out-gained ECU 303-128 in the opening two quarters while holding the Pirates to a pair of field goals. Despite holding the ball for nearly 18 minutes, East Carolina was forced to punt four times.  
The Pirate defense put together a spirited effort in the third stanza, holding Georgia State scoreless. Verity’s third field goal conversion, this one from 48 yards out, sliced ECU’s deficit to 35-16 and left East Carolina within shouting distance entering the fourth.  
After forcing Georgia State to punt the ball early in the final quarter, the Pirates could not take advantage as Antavious Lane intercepted Ahlers at the ECU 34 and took the ball to paydirt to make it 42-16.  
From there, the Pirate special teams unit ignited one final push. With 10:30 remaining, East Carolina lined up for a field goal attempt but a direct snap to Snead resulted in the ECU speedster sprinting 31 yards to the house to cut the Panther advantage to 42-23. On Georgia State’s next drive, the Pirate defense forced a three an out and was subsequently able to block Michael Hayes’ punt. Sophomore Blake Proehl scooped up the loose ball and carried it 29 yards the other way into the endzone. After a Verity failed extra point try, East Carolina found itself trailing by just 13 points at 42-29 and 8:07 showing on the clock.  
The comeback ran out of steam in the closing minutes of the contest. Despite a missed field goal by GSU’s Noel Ruiz with 4:33 left to play, the Pirates could not get anything going in their final two drives. Coates would cap the scoring with a five-yard plunge on the Panthers’ final possession.  
East Carolina returns to action Oct. 10, facing off against American Athletic Conference foe USF at 7 p.m. inside Raymond James Stadium. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.