Troy, Ala. -- With 100 yard receiving efforts from Robert Davis and Todd Boyd, Georgia State led Sun Belt Conference leader Troy 14-6 in the second half but the Panthers could not overcome key injuries and special teams plays in a 31-21 loss at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Boyd posted career highs with nine catches for 122 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown. Davis had his second straight 100-yard game with five receptions for 117 yards, but the senior standout was injured on his 55-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
"We hurt ourselves on special teams and we never really were able to run the football, but our kids kept battling and battling," head coach Trent Miles said. "We put our defense in some tough spots and they fought their butts off but just weren't able to do it."
Georgia State (1-5, 1-2 Sun Belt) took a 14-6 lead with touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half.
The Panthers took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards on nine plays, capped by Conner Manning's 25-yard touchdown pass to Boyd. The junior receiver also had two other big plays on the drive with a 16-yard reception and then a 6-yard catch to convert on 4th-and-5 at the 27-yard line. Two plays late, he hauled in his touchdown over the middle to put the Panthers ahead 7-6.
After the GSU defense forced a punt, the Panthers faced 3rd-and-10 at their own 35 when Manning found Davis over the middle, and he raced to the end zone for the 65-yard touchdown. That put gave the Panthers a 14-6 lead with nine minutes to play in the third quarter.
That was Davis' ninth career reception of 50-plus yards, but he was injured on the play. Already without starting tight end Keith Rucker, the Panthers also lost top rusher Kyler Neal in the first quarter and were down to their third long-snapper.
"Of course those things hurts, but our kids are battlers," Miles said.
Troy (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to GSU 42 and drove for a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line, but the Panthers' defense turned in a valiant goal-line stand, holding on first, second and third down. On fourth down inside the one, Troy had an apparent touchdown nullified by a holding penalty and was forced to settle for a field goal. After that seven-minute, 14-play drive, Georgia State still led 14-9 with two minutes in the third quarter.
But Troy managed to recover a pooch kickoff to gain possession again at the GSU 35-yard line, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run by Jordan Chunn, who carried the ball 32 times for 91 yards on the day. The two-point conversion gave the Trojans the lead for good at 17-14 with a minute left in the third quarter.
The Trojans led 31-14 when Manning's 14-yard touchdown pass to Ari Werts pulled Georgia State within 31-21 with 7:33 still to play. After the GSU defense forced a three-and-out, Manning moved the Panthers out to midfield, but he was sacked and fumbled.
In a defensive battle in the first half, Troy took the opening kickoff and put together a 20-play drive that lasted more than nine minutes, but after two penalties in the red zone, the Trojans had to settle for Ryan Kay's 39-yard field goal.
It appeared that the teams would go into the locker room with that same 3-0 with Georgia State punting from midfield with less than a minute remaining in the half. But an errant snap on the punt gave Troy the ball at the GSU 38-yard line with 40 seconds to play, and the Trojans managed another field goal, a 27-yarder on the final play to go up 6-0 at the half.
Manning completed 28 of 52 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs.
Chandon Sullivan grabbed an interception in the second quarter, his third of the season the sixth of his career, a new Georgia State career record.
For Troy, Brandon Silvers passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia State hosts UT Martin for Homecoming next Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. Call 404-413-4020 for tickets.
GEORGIA STATE NOTES:
* Chandon Sullivan's interception in the second quarter is his third this season and the sixth of his career, which breaks the Georgia State career record.
* Robert Davis' 65-yard touchdown catch his ninth career reception of 50-plus yards.
* Davis had his second straight 100-yard game and the eighth of his career.
* Todd Boyd recorded career highs with nine catches for 122 yards
* Georgia State had two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the seventh time in school history and first time since last year's win over Texas State. Robert Davis has been involved in five of the seven.
* Conner Manning had 28 completions, 52 attempts, 381 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs.