Georgia State loses at Troy: Are Panthers #TakingTheNextStep in wrong direction?

Quarterback Conner Manning finds his place in the Georgia State Offense. Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal
Quarterback Conner Manning finds his place in the Georgia State Offense. Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal
Quarterback Conner Manning finds his place in the Georgia State Offense.
Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal

This was supposed to be the season the Panthers took the next step. The goals for the year were clear. Return to a bowl game and contend for the Sun Belt championship. Lofty goals, but both should have been attainable given the talent and experience returning from a season ago.


With half of the season now in the books to go along with a 1-5 record, those hopes of winning the Sun Belt are now all but dashed after the 31-21 loss to Troy. The Panthers are now a game removed of being mathematically eliminated from bowl eligibility.


Georgia State’s first half at Troy was more of the same sputtering offense we have seen much of the season. The Panthers only had 74 total yards on 31 plays in the entire first half. Had it not been for another nearly stellar performance by the Georgia State defense, who held the Trojans to two field goals and 169 yards in the first half, this game might have gotten really ugly really fast.


The Panthers started to find their mojo the second half after Conner Manning capped off a 9 play 85-yard drive with a 25-yard pass to Todd Boyd for the Panthers first points of the game. Minutes later on their second drive of the second half, Manning found Robert Davis for a 65-yard bomb and the Panthers jumped out to a 14-6 lead.


Panthers would score one more time for the game after tight end Ari Werts hauled in a 14-yard screen pass from Manning in the fourth quarter.


By that time, however, the Trojans had mounted their own scoring comeback with 25 points unanswered points in the second half. With this win, the Trojans jump out to 5-1 on the season and are starting to control their destiny with a 3-0 record in conference play.


The Panthers finished with 418 yards of offense, 381 of those not too surprisingly coming through the air. Manning completed 28 passes on 52 attempts with two interceptions. Boyd led receivers with 122 yards and a touchdown.


Junior cornerback Chandon Sullivan now holds the Georgia State record for interceptions after nabbing his third for the season and his sixth for his career.


Injuries are starting to mount up for the Panthers who are already missing Taz Bateman and Penny Hart. Keith Rucker made the trip to Troy but did not play. Redshirt junior Kyler Neal and senior Robert Davis both left the game with injuries and did not return.


Georgia State outgained Troy by 55 yards and the defense gave the offense every opportunity to take control of the game and give the Panthers their second W on the season. Instead, for the fifth time they came up short and took another L. All the momentum from the win versus Texas State a week ago is now lost.


“We put our defense in some tough spots and they fought their butts off but just weren’t able to do it,” Coach Miles said following the loss, adding his team never gave up and continued to battle.
The clock is ticking on the Panthers season. If this team doesn’t finish the season stronger than it started, Georgia State may be breaking in more than a new stadium in 2017. This team needs to decide now if it wants to #TakeTheNextStep or #TakeAStepBack.