NEW ORLEANS – Troy picked up its fifth-straight win in the Battle for the Belt rivalry game at South Alabama on Thursday night to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018 and position itself atop the Sun Belt West Division at 4-1 in conference play.
Coastal Carolina, which had a bye in Week 8, tops the Sun Belt East Division at 3-1 in conference action. The Chanticleers and Trojans are the two Sun Belt teams that have clinched bowl eligibility, with Georgia Southern (5-3) and South Alabama (5-2) each sitting one win away.
Georgia State scored on its first two possessions Wednesday night to silence the sold-out crowd of 31,757 inside Kidd-Brewer Stadium. Buoyed by the return of redshirt junior running back Camerun Peoples, App State reenergized the crowd by rattling off a 42-3 run over the final three quarters en route to a convincing 42-17 win.
Peoples rushed for a season-high 168 yards and two touchdowns, as the Mountaineers tallied 404 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in the national showcase on ESPN2 to remain unbeaten (9-0) in the all-time series.
Defensively, Mountaineers senior linebacker Logan Doublin contributed a personal-best 12 tackles and a tackle for loss, while redshirt junior linebacker Nick Hampton tied his career-high with eight stops, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Senior running back Tucker Gregg rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown to pace the Panthers in defeat. He now sits just 43 yards behind Tra Barnett’s program record of 2,156 career rushing yards, while his 23 career rushing touchdowns are the Georgia State high-water mark.
Troy prevailed, 10-6, in a defensive battle on the road at in-state rival South Alabama in front of a crowd of 25,450 on Thursday night—the first sellout in Hancock Whitney Stadium history. The victory, which was broadcast nationwide on ESPNU, was the Trojans’ fifth-straight in the Battle for the Belt and positioned Troy atop the Sun Belt West Division.
The Trojans have now won five-straight games and clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018.
Senior running back DK Billingsley tallied 86 yards and scored the game’s lone touchdown just four seconds into the second quarter, providing a lead the Trojans would never relinquish. Senior kicker Brooks Buce’s 51-yard field goal to secure the final 10-6 margin was a career-long.
The Troy defense allowed just 246 yards of total offense, including holding the Jaguars to 31 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Carlton Martial and junior defensive back O’shai Fletcher paced the unit with eight tackles apiece.
Georgia Southern, Marshall and Southern Miss went on the road and spoiled homecoming at Old Dominion, James Madison and Texas State, respectively, in the first meetings of the programs as Sun Belt Conference foes.
The Eagles rushed for 223 yards—behind the tailback tandem of junior Jalen White (138 yards, 1 touchdown) and redshirt junior Gerald Green (91 yards, 2 touchdowns)—to take down the Monarchs, 28-23, and move to 3-0 in the all-time series.
Sixth-year quarterback Kyle Vantrease completed 22-of-27 passes for 192 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown connection with fifth-year wide receiver Amare Jones.
Old Dominion sophomore linebacker Jason Henderson posted his second 21-tackle performance of the season in defeat, while junior wide receiver Ali Jennings III (130 yards, 1 touchdown) and redshirt junior running back Blake Watson (108 yards, 1 touchdown) had 100-yard outings on the offensive side of the ball for the Monarchs.
The Thundering Herd maintained its unblemished mark against James Madison, running its record in the all-time series to 3-0 with a 26-12 road victory in front of a Bridgeforth Stadium record crowd of 26,159. Marshall sixth-year running back Khalan Laborn found his way through the nation’s top rushing defense to accumulate 151 yards—his seventh-straight 100-yard effort—and a pair of touchdowns.
Redshirt junior wide receiver Corey Gammage hauled in a 57-yard touchdown reception, as part of a 107-yard outing, to highlight Marshall’s performances through the air. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Owen Porter had a career day on the Thundering Herd defensive front with nine tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble, while sixth-year linebacker Charlie Gray added two interceptions in the road win.
Dukes graduate student running back Percy Agyei-Obese rushed for 96 yards in the loss, narrowly missing a third-straight 100-yard game.
Scoring over the final 1:21 nearly matched that of the preceding 58:39 in Southern Miss’ 20-14 victory at Texas State.
A 74-yard touchdown strike from redshirt junior quarterback Layne Hatcher to sophomore wide receiver Ashtyn Hawkins with 1:21 to play gave Texas State its first lead of the game, 14-13.
Southern Miss responded with a 53-yard bomb of its own, with freshman quarterback Zach Wilcke finding sophomore running back Chandler Pittman with 32 seconds to play, and intercepted a Hatcher pass four plays into the ensuing drive to seal the victory. Senior defensive back Natrone Brooks brought down the game-sealing interception for the Golden Eagles, handing Texas State its first home loss of the season.
Louisiana redshirt junior quarterback Ben Wooldridge threw a program-record five touchdown passes, as the Ragin’ Cajuns downed Arkansas State, 38-18. Wooldridge—who completed 21-of-34 passes for 315 yards—connected with four different wide receivers on his five touchdown passes, with three being on completions of 35 yards or more.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jacob Bernard (97 yards, 1 touchdown) and sophomore wide receiver Dontae Fleming (81 yards, 2 touchdowns) headlined the Ragin’ Cajuns receiving performances.
ULM fell to Army, 48-24, in the lone non-conference bout of the week.
SUN BELT FOOTBALL – WEEK 8 RESULTS
App State def. Georgia State, 42-17
Troy def. South Alabama, 10-6
Army def. ULM, 48-24
Marshall def. James Madison, 26-12
Georgia Southern def. Old Dominion, 28-23
Louisiana def. Arkansas State, 38-18
Southern Miss def. Texas State, 20-14