by Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
Win-less Georgia State watched its Homecoming dream turn into a nightmare as Troy wide receiver Chris Williams sprinted into the end zone with the game winning touchdown.
For 56 minutes, the Panthers gave the Trojans everything they wanted. The Panthers answered the bell each time the Sun Belt’s third-ranked offense crossed the goal line.
Troy jumped on the scoreboard first on a 26 yard pass from quarterback Corey Robinson to wide receiver Eric Thomas in the front of the end zone. Prior to the score, Thomas had brought the Trojans fan base to its feet with a dazzling 37 yard run.
Before the fans finished slapping high fives, the Panthers were across midfield and driving towards a matching score. Quarterback Ronnie Bell hit Robert Davis and Jonathan Jean-Bart for consecutive 20+ yard passes to move inside the redzone. Kelton Hill tied the game two plays later on a 7 yard reception from Bell.
The Trojans added their only other score of the half thanks to another big pass play. If this game had been a movie or dramatic television series, the play – a 36 yarder to Chris Williams – would have been considered foreshadowing. A pair of 9 yard running plays set up first and goal at the Panthers 7. On third down Robinson hit Bryan Holmes with a quick toss and the receiver scooted in for the first and final score of the first half.
Troy had threatened to score once more from the 12 but Tarris Batiste made a super play intercepting a pass that appeared to be heading out of the back of the endzone.
Georgia State’s defense back continued making plays in the second half. On the Trojans first possession, Panthers linebacker Mackendy Cheridor forced fumble of Troy running back Brandon Burks was scooped up by Batiste.
It was the shift in momentum the Panthers needed. Working with the short field, Bell directed the offense down inside the Trojans 10. GSU tied the score on the familiar Bell-to-Wilson connection.
Linebacker Jarrell Robinson got in on the turnover fun picking off Robinson on the ensuing drive. During the return, Dalton Bennett knocked the ball loose but an alert Robinson recovered the fumble.
Although the Panthers were unable to capitalize on the turnover immediately, it paid dividends in field position. Matt Hubbard’s 52 yard punt was downed at the 5 yard line.
Burks 13 yard run on first down was all the Trojans were able to muster on the drive and were forced to punt from the 15. GSU Head Coach Trent Miles sent in the block punt play. Demarius Matthews gave his coach exactly what he asked for. The deflected punt traveled several yards before Danny Williams fell on it at the 31.
Coach Miles went right for the jugular on the first play. Bell hit Ronnie Davis with two Trojans defenders draped on him for a 31 yard touchdown to give the Panthers their first lead of the game 21-14.
Troy tied the game just before the end of the third on an 8 yard run from Jordan Chunn.
A 48 yard return by Albert Wilson on the ensuing kick set up another Panthers scoring drive. On the first play of the fourth, Bell found Wilson on a quick slant and the speedy receiver simply out ran the secondary for his second score of the game.
There was no rest for the Panthers, as the Trojans came right back with a methodical 13 play drive. Chunn capped the 75-yard drive with a 3 yard run for his second score of the game.
With plenty of time on the clock and their back up against the endzone at the 2, Georgia State marched towards midfield. Once the Panthers reached the 50 the wheels of the cart began to wobble. A holding penalty followed by an offensive pass interference penalty left the blue cats facing 3rd and 17. Naturally the Trojans defensive line pinned their ears back sacking Bell on the third down play. Fortunately for the Panthers, a Trojans defender grabbed a hold of Bell’s face mask long enough for the officials to throw a flag for a 15 yard personal foul and automatic first down.
The new life was cut short by free safety Chris Pickett. Bell attempted to go back to Wilson once too often and found Pickett waiting at the 17. Pickett returned the interception 20 yards to set up the game winning drive.Game Stats
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