It was vintage Georgia Southern Saturday afternoon as the Eagles slowly and steadily put Troy away at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The visitors at least temporarily put a halt to Troy's resurgence under upstart head coach Neal Brown and picked up their seventh win with three games and a bowl still left to play. The line for this game ticked down to just six by kickoff as there was talk of Georgia Southern falling off as Troy took off, instead this was the 2014 game all over again.
Troy will look its wounds for a week before playing Georgia State, while Georgia Southern heads to Athens to take on Georgia.
Three things we learned
1. Role reversal.
Troy might have hoped to replicate its success against Appalachian State in this game. Instead, it played out more like the Georgia Southern-App State contest, with Troy playing the role of the Eagles.
The Trojans cruised right down the field on the opening drive with quarterback Brandon Silvers landing big completions along the way. Troy settled for a field goal but then turned it to 100 real quick thanks to a fumble return for a touchdown on Georgia Southern's first offensive snap.
From there, it was all Eagles as the boys from Statesboro scored 45 unanswered. Southern's defense didn't always dominate, but it got enough pressure on Silvers to keep him off balance and held steady against the run. A fumble recovery and two interceptions didn't hurt either.
2. Does Southern have... a pass game now??
The Eagles recorded a touchdown pass in the first half, which is exciting enough, but it could have been three. The first time Favian Upshaw found a wide-open BJ Johnson (welcome back BJ) over the middle but threw it high enough Johnson had to leap and fell coming down.
The second time Kevin Ellison had Derek Keaton so open he could have checked his Twitter feed before catching the ball. Instead it was overthrown for an incompletion. The third time was just right as Ellison hit a streaking James Dean for Dean's first career touchdown catch.
(If you think that's good, wait until running back commit Sam Jackson joins the team next year. I digress.)
Malik Henry also caught his first career pass in the game. In the end it only amounted to 85 yards. It was also 12.1 yards per attempt and enough to keep Troy honest. Georgia Southern is deadly when it gets that.
3. Troy is on the rise
Okay, this obviously wasn't the game for Troy. Still, this is a team set to keep getting better as Brown establishes himself. Silvers still has two years left and owns the skills both running and passing to be a force in this conference. Other Sun Belt fans might soon look longingly back a the days they could count on a win over the Trojans.
Troy's defense, again it wasn't prepared for the wrinkles Southern threw (no pun intended) into the passing game and was worn down with the Eagles thoroughly dominating time of possession.
BONUS: Cool stats
Speaking of which, Georgia Southern's time of possession was 42:55. They held the ball for almost three entire quarters of this game, leaving just 17 minutes and five seconds for Troy's offense. Surely that's close to a record. Their last touchdown drive lasted 12:01, almost the entirety of the fourth quarter.
Georgia Southern also ran for 325 yards, against just 68 for Troy. However, not a single Eagle ran for more than 100 yards. Matt Breida, LA Ramsby and Ellison all topped out in the eighties. Why work harder when you can work smarter?