Georgia State is bowl eligible for the third time in the last five years. Here is what we learned from its win over Troy

Roger Carter scores Georgia State’s sixth touchdown of the game putting GSU up 45-27 against Troy University. Photo by Shel Levy | The Signal

The Georgia State Panthers defeated the Troy Trojans 52-33 Saturday night. The team remains undefeated at home this season. The team improved its record to 6-2 on the year and, with this win, became bowl-eligible.


First Half

The Panthers looked to get off to a quick start and did just that. The opening drive saw quarterback Dan Ellington and running back Tra Barnett lead the team down the field for a touchdown, via an Ellington run. 

For the remainder of the first quarter, both offenses struggled to put points on the board, with both defenses making crucial stops. Troy opened up the second quarter with a touchdown, following an Ellington interception at the end of the first quarter. 

The Trojans’ score woke Shawn Elliott’s men up. Ellington bounced back with a touchdown to tight end Aubry Payne. Following a big stop by the defense, running back Seth Paige broke free for a 65-yard touchdown to put the Panthers ahead 21-7. Troy bounced back quickly, scoring to bring the game to 21-14, but the Panthers answered with a Barnett touchdown to go into the halftime break up 28-14. 


Second Half

The Panthers began to chew clock and use their ground game to assert control. The team opened up the scoring in the third quarter with another Ellington rushing touchdown to make the score 35-14. 

Troy answered back with a touchdown of its own to open the fourth quarter and draw back within two scores. The Panthers marched right back down the field, but had to settle for a field goal by kicker Brandon Wright to make the score 38-21. 

Troy’s passing game began to be a problem for the defensive unit, setting up a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Trojans attempted a two-point conversion but came up short. The scoreboard read 38-27. 

From here, the Panthers continued to rely on their ground game, which totalled a mammoth 390 yards on the night. After a long drive, Ellington got his second passing touchdown of the game, with a 4-yard pass to Roger Carter, expanding the lead to 45-27.

The Trojans came back with a massive throw down the field to put them on the one yardline. This ultimately lead to a one-yard passing touchdown, putting the game at 45-33, after another failed two point conversion. 

The Panthers sealed the win on the ensuing drive, however. Barnett broke free for a massive 41-yard touchdown to put the Panthers ahead 52-33.

As the “Light It Blue” tradition took place, those in the stands made their satisfactions heard. The team secured bowl eligibility for the third time in five years.


The Panthers Are Sun Belt Contenders … Seriously 

Ever since the Panthers defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in their season opener, we knew that they could contend for the Sun Belt crown. After rushing for a combined 390 total yards Saturday, while throwing for 189, the team made another statement on the offensive end.

The team’s offensive firepower is arguably one of the best in the nation, and Saturday’s win set the Panthers up for a marquee showdown in three weeks at Georgia State Stadium against conference rival Appalachian State. The Panthers are undefeated at home (4-0) and in home primetime games this season (3-0).


Tra Barnett Is On Fire

Barnett continued his four-game streak of rushing for 100 or more yards. On Saturday, he set a career and school record in rushing yards. 

With 928 total rushing yards on the season, Barnett is ninth in the nation. His running style is perfect for the team’s offense and helps the unit impose their will on opposing defenses.

On the Panthers’ opening drive Saturday, the Trojans simply had no answer for Barnett and the high-tempo offense. So, who will be able to slow down the senior? 


Elliott Is Building A New Culture 

For the Panthers to have already clinched bowl eligibility this season is nothing short of remarkable. After finishing last season 2-10, with only one win in the Sun Belt, it is a major improvement and a sign of things to come. 

Elliott is in his third season at Georgia State and is setting the team up for a possible Sun Belt title. Players and the coaching staff are buying in and trust each other. Only time will tell when something special and big will happen at Georgia State and it may be soon.

“If you want to see a show, you show up to Georgia State Stadium,” Elliott said when asked about how the team can revive the student presence inside the stadium. “This is a season … that people will talk about.” 


Brandon Wright Is Back

Last week, Wright missed an extra point, which could have been crucial if the Panthers were unable to make defensive stops and plays against the Army Black Knights. This week, Wright was perfect and even converted on a 29-yard field goal attempt. As one of the best kickers in the Sun Belt, Wright is a  luxury for the Panthers to have as the season winds down.


The Defense Will Sorely Miss Ed Curney

Ed Curney is out for the season with a torn ACL, and will be a big loss for the Panthers’ defense. Although the defense has players who are ready to step up, Saturday showed that without Curney, linebackers will have to step up and make the necessary plays to keep the defense intact. Curney will be missed but knows his leadership on the sideline will be critical.