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They offered free tickets ... until rival fans took way too much advantage of them

What started out as Georgia State’s neighborhood promotion had to be revoked, thanks to Georgia Southern fans.

Georgia State v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It started out innocently enough. Georgia State — which for the second season has been playing in the renovated former Turner Field — had marketing interns go door to door around the stadium to give locals a chance to attend a Panthers game free of charge. But then the promotion fell into the wrong hands.

Because the season finale for the Panthers is against rival Georgia Southern, plenty of whom live in the vicinity, and most of whom aren’t all that far away.

And when Eagles fans found out about the promotion, they took full advantage of it.

As a low-level Group of 5 program, goosing up attendance in any way possible is worth a shot. And honestly, what could go wrong?

Apparently, quite a bit.

Because by the end of the day, the free tickets were no longer available for the Southern game.

And those who had already taken advantage of the bargain had their tickets revoked.

Georgia State says it won’t comment about the incident, but SB Nation spoke to a Panthers source familiar with ticketing procedures.

“We tried to keep it as simple as possible,” the source said. “Obviously somebody, we believe, in one of those neighborhoods is a Georgia Southern fan and decided it would be funny to go post on social media and see what hypothetically they could get away with. So, we realized pretty quick what was going on and put a stop to it.”

The source said fewer than 300 tickets were snapped up via the promotion for the Southern game before State realized what was going on.

For the uninitiated, these schools plain don’t like each other.

Just because you might not have heard of their rivalry, or since it’s between two G5 programs, does not mean the passion isn’t there. Georgia Southern will still pack ‘em into Georgia State’s stadium even if they have to pay.

Georgia Southern has a proud tradition of winning, but on the FCS level. They entered FBS in 2014, a year after Georgia State did, and have been playing a Sun Belt rivalry game since.

“Some of the voice messages that we’ve gotten over this are absolutely hysterical,” the source said. “At the end of the day people have to know what they did was wrong. It’s kinda like, you try to cheat the system, you get caught, but then you’re gonna be upset about it?

“It’s no different than when you get one of those Chick-fil-A cards and go print off 100 copies and think you’re gonna show up and get 100 Chick-fil-A sandwiches for free.”

The emphasis on trying grow fans in the metro Atlanta area is important for the Panthers because they’ve long been a commuter school.

The reason Georgia State added football in the first place in 2010 — after nearly a century as an educational institution — is because of the impact football can have on a community and a school’s wallet.

Free tickets can still be had for the other Georgia State home games, and the source said Georgia State will still find a way to come up with something for the people in the surrounding neighborhoods to come to the Southern game if they choose to.

For now, just file this one away as one hilariously petty chapter in a budding in-state war.

The Georgia State source said, “They’ve lost three straight to us in football, and it’s just one more thing that adds to the rivalry.”