Football faces tough matchup with share in SBC title at stake

Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

The Troy football team is one game away from not only claiming a piece of the Sun Belt Championship, but making school history. It will travel to Statesboro, Georgia, to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday.

The Trojans (9-2, 6-1 Sun Belt) are coming off a road win against Texas State, and now they focus on capturing the first 10-win season in the program’s Division I history.

Georgia Southern (4-7, 3-4 Sun Belt) started the season with three consecutive wins, but has since lost seven of its last eight games. It lost its bid to the postseason after falling at Georgia State two weeks ago.

After scoring just three points against Arkansas State, the fewest Troy has scored against a Sun Belt opponent since 2005, the offense quickly hit its stride and dropped 40 points against the Bobcats.

Junior running back Jordan Chunn has been the focal point of the offense, and he will look to carry the momentum into the season finale. Chunn is second in the conference in rushing with 1,153 yards. He is also leading the Sun Belt in rushing touchdowns, finding pay dirt 11 times thus far.

Handing the ball to Chunn is junior quarterback Brandon Silvers. Silvers has spread the wealth around, throwing touchdowns to nine different receivers.

He is currently the Sun Belt leader in completions, passing yards and pass efficiency. Silvers is also the first Troy quarterback to lead the Sun Belt in those three categories since Corey Robinson in 2010.

On the other side of the ball is a Georgia Southern defense that lives and dies by its ability to stop the run.

In the Eagles’ victories, Southern has allowed just 85.5 rushing yards per game and only one rushing touchdown. In the losses, the defense has given up 219.6 yards per game and 18 touchdowns.

Leading the Georgia Southern defense are linebackers Ironhead Gallon and Ukeme Eligwe. The two have combined for 108 solo tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

“I like the way Ironhead Gallon plays,” said Troy Head Coach Neal Brown at Monday’s press conference. “He’s all over the place on special teams and had a career day against us last year.”

On offense, Georgia Southern has been a ground-and-pound team from day one. The Eagles are second in rushing yards per game, averaging 224 yards on the ground per contest.

The quarterback-running back combo of Kevin Ellison and Matt Breida get the majority of the carries. The two have 1,143 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Southern has divvied up the workload outside of Ellison and Breida, spreading 233 carries over three other ball carriers.

On defense, Troy is first in the conference in stopping the run. The Trojans are allowing 115 rushing yards per game with just 3.25 yards per carry.

Anchoring the stout defense is senior defensive lineman Rashad Dillard. Dillard has 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks this season.

With program history and a conference title within reach, Troy will look to cap off an exhilarating season with a revenge victory.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. at Paulson Stadium and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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