By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Behind a career day from tight end Keith Rucker and a continually improving defense, the Georgia State football team won its third-straight game with a 31-21 home victory over Troy at the Georgia Dome on Friday in a Sun Belt contest.
Rucker finished the contest with a game and career-high 154 receiving yards on 10 catches for the Panthers (5-6, 4-3) who outgained the Trojans (3-8, 2-5) in total yards 519-374.
Georgia State’s Nick Arbuckle threw for a game-high 368 yards and two touchdowns while Glenn Smith had a game-high 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The victory puts the Panthers in a position for bowl eligibility with a win at Georgia Southern on Dec. 5.
Georgia State took a 24-7 lead at the 10:04 mark of the fourth quarter on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Arbuckle to Robert Davis. The senior wide receiver finished with 88 receiving yards.
Arbuckle’s one-yard touchdown run up the middle increased the Panthers’ lead to 31-7 late in the third quarter.
Troy made the score 31-14 in favor of Georgia State with a one-yard touchdown run by Brandon Burks with two minutes left in the third quarter. Burks had a team-high 58 yards rushing.
The Trojans continued their comeback attempt as Jarvis Bentley caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 5:41 left in the contest, cutting Georgia State’s lead to 31-21.
Brandon Silvers finished with a team-high 284 passing yards and two touchdowns for Troy.
The Panthers got the board on their second possession of the game when Penny Hart caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Arbuckle, giving them a 7-0 lead at the 7:57 mark of the first quarter.
Georgia State’s defense made several key stops in the first quarter, including an interception by Jerome Smith.
Jed Solomon’s 27-yard field goal attempt for Troy at the 14:27 mark of the second quarter was wide left. On Georgia State’s subsequent possession, the Panthers were driving down the field but a lost fumble by Taz Bateman was recovered in the end zone by the Trojans with 10:05 left in the first half.
Troy’s Ruben tied the score at 7-7 with a 58-yard touchdown catch at the 7:52 mark of the second quarter. He had a team-high 91 yards receiving.
Georgia State responded with a 39-yard touchdown run up the middle by Smith, giving the Panthers the lead once again at 14-7 with 5:31 left in the first half. They increased their lead to 17-7 on the final play of the first half on a 30-yard field goal by Wil Lutz.
Georgia State outgained Troy 339 to 146 in total yardage for the first half. Troy made only three out of eight third-down conversions. Rucker had a game-high 116 receiving yards and six catches in the first half.
Other notes courtesy of Georgia State Athletics:
-The Panthers collected nine pass breakups in the game, including three by defensive lineman Shawayne Lawrence, and six tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Jerome Smith grabbed his first interception, and Joseph Peterosn recovered a fumble, along with seven tackles.