Troy soars past Georgia Southern 38-16

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy football team cruised past conference foe Georgia Southern 38-16 on Saturday, picking up its sixth win to earn bowl eligibility.

The Trojans hosted the winless Eagles in a homecoming matchup plagued with heavy rains. Senior running back Josh Anderson, in the absence of Jordan Chunn, led a Troy running game with 96 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

With the win, Troy topped Georgia Southern for the first time since 1992. The Trojans also picked up their third homecoming win on the year, following wins at Georgia State and LSU, and their third Sun Belt win.

“It’s important that we’re bowl-eligible,” said Head Coach Neal Brown. “I think it had been since 1992 that we had beaten Georgia Southern.

“Not one player, not one graduate assistant, not one administrative person, not one coach ­— nobody had ever beaten Georgia Southern. Tonight, we have a full room, and it’s a significant win.”

Saturday’s downpour didn’t put a damper on early offense production, as the Trojans needed drives of five plays or fewer to score four of their five touchdowns.

The scoring began when wide receiver John Johnson sent a throwback pass 40 yards deep to a wide-open Tray Eafford to put the Trojans on the board. Johnson has now completed three passes in his career, two of which went for touchdowns.

Georgia Southern answered with a 12-play drive, capped by a three-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.

Troy then went back on top, closing out the opening quarter with a 32-yard run from Anderson.

Although the Eagles struck first in the second quarter on a 46-yard field goal, Troy responded with two touchdowns. Running back Jamarius Henderson picked up one of Troy’s three rushing touchdowns on the day, breaking free for a 59-yard score with 10:24 left before the half.

This, along with a six-yard score through the air from quarterback Brandon Silvers, gave Troy a 28-10 advantage heading into the halftime break. Troy’s 28 first-half points were the most all season, accounting for 264 of its 383 total yards in the first half as well.

The third quarter was scoreless until just under two minutes remaining when Troy kicker Tyler Sumpter sent a 28-yard kick through the uprights to add to Troy’s 31-10 lead. Sumpter has yet to miss a field goal attempt since he was moved into the placekicking role on the road at Georgia State.

With 2:15 remaining in the game, Georgia Southern found the end zone one last time when the Eagles’ William Field scored on a three-yard rush. That score cut the lead down to 15, but the host quickly put the game away for good.

The Trojans marched 44 yards on the ensuing drive to answer with a score of their own. B.J. Smith punched it in from three yards out to put the Trojans up 38-16, where the final score stood as the game expired.

Following its win, Troy now looks ahead to a midweek Sun Belt matchup, playing host to Idaho this Thursday night.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

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