Week 7 Sun Belt Recap – Georgia State makes a Statement

Georgia State has emerged as a dark horse contender in the Sun Belt Conference after a record setting performance in Monroe vs. the ULM Warhawks. Penny Hart and Jaleel Scott are locked in a neck-and-neck race for best SBC WR. App State survived a trip to Moscow, Idaho. Arkansas State took care of business vs. Coastal. Louisiana and New Mexico State took care of business vs. floundering Texas State and Georgia Southern.

Just another week in the #FunBelt. Let’s dive in.

Georgia State 47, ULM 37

What if I told you that Conner Manning lead the conference in completion percentage (67.9) and yards per attempt (8.5)? That Penny Hart may very well be the best player in the conference? That the Panthers put up a record 670 yards of offense vs. conference leading ULM on the road? That the Panthers were undefeated in conference and on a three game winning streak?

It would all be true.

Georgia State, lead by first year head coach Shawn Elliott, may have figured this football thing out finally. After the week 1 loss to Treon Harris and Tennessee State, Sun Belt watchers were ready to write the Panthers off. “Same ole Georgia State.”

Six weeks later and Elliott has his program getting better by the week. Just check out these stats:

Conner Manning: 26/35 446 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, QBR – 94.3

Penny Hart: 11 catches, 190 yards, 3 TDs

First Downs: GSU 31, ULM 19

Total Yards: GSU 670, ULM 431

Yards per Pass: GSU 12.7, ULM 8.5

Rushing Yards: GSU 224, ULM 117

Yards per Rush: GSU 5.5, ULM 3.2

Watch out Sun Belt. Georgia State is well-funded, well-located, and now has spiffy new Turner Petit Field to play in. Don’t underestimate the drawing power the city of Atlanta has to a 17 year old kid. If Shawn Elliott’s recruiting chops are to be believed, this is only the beginning for the Panthers.

Georgia State is 3-2, 2-0 in conference

ULM is 3-3, 3-1 in conference


Appalachian State 23, Idaho 20

In what can only be described as an aesthetic assault on the eyes, App State got its 600th win in program history Saturday over the Idaho. Idaho with their gray-on-gray uniforms and App State with their yellow uniforms, played in the peculiar Kibble Dome, made this perhaps the strangest SBC game of the weekend.

The Mountaineers had to comeback from a 20-point deficit with 8:00 left in the 3rd quarter to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Taylor Lamb threw for 3 TDs on 16/25 and 155 yards through the air. All three came in the 2nd half. He also tied the great Armanti Edwards in career TDs at App State with 74.

The Vandals did a great job stuffing App State’s running game. Jalin Moore never really got going, he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry on 17 carries. Terrence Upshaw was even less effective. Tony Lashley alone had 16 tackles and 3.5 TFLs. Idaho had 12(!) TFLs total. Let’s just say the Vandals spent a fair amount of time in the Mountaineer backfield.

It wasn’t a pleasant offensive performance. But WR Ike Lewis came up big for App State. He had a career-high 101 yards and 2 TDs on 6 catches. One TD came from 38 yards out on an ankle busting bubble screen. Another on a 45-yard post route where he leaves the Vandal secondary in the dust. Thomas Hennigan and Ike Lewis are a nice 1-2 punch at WR for the conference leaders.

Matt Linehan had a solid, yet unspectacular day, throwing for an even 200 yards on 15/28, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. Idaho RB Aaron Duckworth is currently leading the Sun Belt in rushing after gaining 113 yards on 24 carries.

Idaho is 2-4, 1-2 in conference

App State is 4-2, 3-0 in conference


Arkansas State 51, Coastal Carolina 17

Coastal Carolina got to see how they measure up against the class of the conference, Arkansas State, and, well…it went about as well as you might of expected. The Chanticleers will have to wait yet another week for their first Sun Belt victory.

Justice Hansen threw for 5 TDs and 286 yards and even added another 68 yards on the ground to lead the Red Wolves in rushing. Hansen threw to seven different receivers on the day, and four different receivers caught TD passes. Hansen has become adept at spreading the ball around. Blake Mack lead the way with 68 yards on 6 catches with 2 TDs.

Osharmar Abercrombie was a bright spot for the Chants with 102 yards on the ground on 10 carries, including a 55 yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage. He is currently 5th in the conference in rushing.

Arkansas State is 3-2, 2-0 in conference

Coastal Carolina is 1-5, 0-3 in conference


New Mexico State 35, Georgia Southern 27

Read about it below:


New Mexico State is 3-4, 1-2 in conference

Georgia Southern is 0-5, 0-2 in conference

Louisiana 24, Texas State 7


Texas State and Georgia Southern seem to be locked in a no-holds-barred contest to see which is the worst team in the Sun Belt (we’ll go easy on Coastal for now, they’re newbies). But Texas State has something that Georgia Southern is still trying to find, a win. That may be true, however, at 13.4 points per game, Texas State’s offense is making a strong case.Andre Nunez’s numbers will not pop out at you in this one, but he did what he had to do. A workmanlike 232 yards with a TD through the air, combined with Tony Ragas’s 2 TDs on the ground, were enough for the Ragin’ Cajuns to come away with the victory. Not bad for the Juco transfer/walkon Nunez from Iowa Western Community College (Go Reviers?!).Keenan Barnes and Ryheem Malone, both top 10 in the SBC in receiving yards, combined for 8 catches and 164 yards with Barnes catching an 8 yard TD from Nunez with 10 minutes left in the 4th.

Mark Hudspeth’s defense made things difficult for Texas State Thursday night. The Cajun defense had six sacks, 12 TFLs, and 3 turnovers. They made life a living hell for backup Willie Jones III. Jones did the best he could behind his swiss cheese of an offensive line. He added 197 yards through the air and 58 on the ground.

The only notable play the Bobcats had on offense was perhaps the Thurman Morbley 49 yard catch-and-run that set up their only TD.

Louisiana is 3-3, 2-1 in conference

Texas State is 1-6, 0-3 in conference

South Alabama 19, Troy 8

Games in the middle of the week can be dangerous things, just ask Clemson and Washington State. The #FunBelt is no different. Sloppy Troy play on 4 turnovers handed the USA Jaguars the victory in the #BattleForTheBelt.

Troy coming off of its stunning upset over the LSU Tigers, came out and just wet the bed at home against rival South Alabama. Would it be too cliche to say they bought into their own hype? Because that is what it looked like last Wednesday night.

To be fair, South Alabama has a habit of rising to the level of the competition they play. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.

Now Troy has to worry about the fact that despite all of the positive press, remains 10th out of 12 in the conference. Brandon Silvers was supposed to have a monster year this year. Well he has only 3 TD passes through six games. Neal Brown is supposed to be an offensive guru right?

The Trojans need to get the offense going if they want to compete with the likes of Arkansas State and App State at the top of the conference. The key now is shrugging off the bitter loss to your rival. Don’t make one loss turn into two losses. They travel to Atlanta to face the resurgent Georgia State Panthers Saturday in what should be the Sun Belt Game of the Week.


South Alabama is 2-4, 1-1 in conference
Troy is 4-2, 1-1 in conference

2017 Sun Belt Conference Standings

Appalachian State 3-0 4-2
Arkansas State 2-0 3-2
Georgia State 2-0 3-2
ULM 3-1 3-3
Louisiana 2-1 3-3
South Alabama 1-1 2-4
Troy 1-1 4-2
New Mexico State 1-2 3-4
Idaho 1-2 2-4
Georgia Southern 0-2 0-5
Coastal Carolina 0-3 1-5
Texas State 0-3 1-6

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