Brandon Silvers threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns to propel the Troy Trojans to a 34-10 win over the Georgia State Panthers at Petit Field on Homecoming afternoon in Atlanta.
“You think there would be a lot more juice than what we showed out there today,” pondered an obviously disappointed Shawn Elliott. The Georgia State head coach was subdued in his responses to questions from the media during post-game interview. Coming into the game the Panthers were 2-0 in the Sun Belt conference after being on the road since opening day.
The game started in Georgia State’s favor. Panthers senior safety Bryan Williams intercepted Silvers pass intended for Sam Letton on the third play of the game at the Trojans 45 yard line. Georgia State’s offense used that momentum grabber to march the ball inside the red zone on a 17-yard pass from Conner Manning to Glenn Smith. The Panthers managed to gain another five yards before the drive stalled at the 13. Brandon Wright came on for the chippy field goal that gave Georgia State a 3-0 lead.
It would turn out to be the only lead the Panthers would have as they scored just twice on five trips inside the red zone. “It’s really frustrating,” said Elliott. “You know you get down in there and you have the opportunity to put it in and for some reason or another it just doesn’t happen and then we try to end it with a kick -the kick sails wide right or wide left -it’s just a continual build-up of frustration in the red zone to tell you the truth.
Troy didn’t have any problems in the red zone. The Trojans were 4 for 4 with two touchdowns and two field goals. Their two other touchdowns came compliments of the big play. John Johnson turned a routine reception into a 49-yard touchdown that gave the Trojans the first lead of the game. Deondre Douglas pulled off the play of the first half with his big play. The junior wide receiver converted fourth down on a reverse that picked up the two yards for the first and 33 more for a touchdown.
For those scoring at home, Troy gets credit for picking up the first down.
On the ensuing drive by the Panthers, Manning connected with Tamir Jones for a 39-yard gain that had the offense knocking on the Trojans’ gates once again. A sack on third down by Sam Lebbie and Seth Calloway ended the Panthers hopes for six. Brandon Wright’s attempt from 42 yards sailed wide left ending their hopes for three.
Moving the ball didn’t seem to be an issue for the Panthers’ offense. Manning finished with 255 yards passing as four Panthers receivers finished with three or more catches.
The Panthers’ offense moved 59 yards down the field to the Trojans’ 4-yard line with their final possession of the first half. Despite having four fresh downs and plenty of time, the Panthers were turned away yet again.
They were denied a third scoring opportunity at the top of the fourth quarter. Wright’s 33-yard punt was fumbled by Troy’s Marcus Jones and recovered by Panthers cornerback Khai Anderson at the Trojans 4. Two plays later Manning was picked off in the end zone by Troy’s hulking free safety Cedarius Rookard.
Georgia State ate up most of the clock in the fourth quarter with an unbelievable 20-play, 82-yard drive that lasted 10 seconds shy of 9 minutes. Penny Hart capped the drive with a 3-yard reception in front of the goalposts for the Panthers’ only touchdown of the game.
Twelve hours. That’s the amount of time the Panthers have to wash off the stink of their homecoming loss before preparing for Thursday’s game against South Alabama. Injuries to the corps of running backs meant more carries for Smith and another converted wide receiver Devin Gentry. After having some success running outside the tackles, Elliott sees establishing the outside game as a compliment to the rushing attack between the tackles.
Getting the running game going against South Alabama is a respectable goal. The Jags are two spots behind the top-ranked Trojans’ defense against the run at 140.3 yards/game. They are ranked fifth against the pass but the secondary only has three interceptions.
All photos by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports