Troy hosts Sun Belt Football Championship, three teams secure bowl eligibility in Week 13

NEW ORLEANS – Troy (10-2, 7-1 SBC) hosts Coastal Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SBC) at the 2022 Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship on Saturday, December 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET/2 :30 pm CT at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama. Tickets are available now at TroyTrojans.com/SBCTickets, starting at just $10.

The matchup – which will be the first appearance in a championship game for both programs since the game began in 2018 – will be televised nationally on ESPN. Troy is looking for his seventh Sun Belt crown leading the conference while Coastal Carolina is looking for his second conference title.

West Division Champion Troy earned the right to host the championship game due to his 48-19 win at Arkansas State, which ended 7-1 in conference play, ahead of East Division Champion Coastal Carolina by 6: 2.

Georgia Southern, Louisiana and Southern Miss qualified for the Bowl in Week 13 — joining Coastal Carolina, Marshall, South Alabama and Troy to make the Sun Belt seven Bowl-eligible teams in its first season as a 14-man football conference admit.

Troy scored 34 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to capture the Sun Belt West Division title and earn the right to host the 2022 Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship through a 48-19 win over Arkansas State.

Sophomore running back Kimani Vidal rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Trojan offense, alongside a 101-yard receiving out from senior wide receiver RaJae’ Johnson. Vidal also hit the 1,000-yard plateau for the year after making back-to-back 200-yard efforts to finish the regular season.

All-time NCAA record holder for career tackles, senior linebacker Carlton Martial, recorded a team-high six stops as the Troy defense held Arkansas State to just 38 rushing yards on the day. Junior defenseman Reddy Steward added two interceptions, including a 67-yard pick-six for the Trojans.

Behind a five-touchdown outing for grad student quarterback Todd Centeio — four passing, one rushing — James Madison notched a 47-7 win over No. 23/23 Coastal Carolina in his final game of the 2022 campaign. The Dukes scored 44 unanswered points in the Senior Day statement win to wrap up their first FBS season 8-3.

Centeio completed 17 of 32 passes for 287 yards, including five connections with redshirt senior wide receiver Devin Ravenel for a career-high 102 yards and two points. Kris Thornton, his redshirt senior wide receiver, also added six catches for 93 yards, becoming the first Duke to have multiple and consecutive seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards.

James Madison’s defense registered nine tackles for loss and five sacks, holding the Chanticleers at a season-low 183 yards.

South Alabama never led to the 6:40 mark in the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Carter Bradley found junior tight end DJ Thomas-Jones for a two-yard touchdown shot to send the Jaguars to a 27th -20 victory over Old Dominion.

Bradley completed 17 of 29 passes for 190 yards and all three Jaguar touchdowns. Junior running back La’Damian Webb added a team-high 75 rushing yards, becoming only the second player in program history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season. The Jaguars’ 10 wins equal the most in a single season for the program (2010).

Senior wide receiver Jalen Wayne set the high-water mark of single-season touchdown receptions with his 30-yard third-quarter score in South Alabama (9), while junior kicker Diego Guajardo had a nine for single-season Scoring leader (96) was points to victory.

Dominion veteran redshirt junior running back Blake Watson rushed for a powerful 112 yards and second linebacker Jason Henderson had a powerful 18 tackles in the loss. Henderson ended the year with 186 tackles — the third most in a single season in FBS history.

Running backs Rasheen Ali (102 yards) – a redshirt sophomore – and Khalan Laborn (100 yards) – a sixth grader – each had 100 rushing yards as the Thundering Herd sped past Georgia by 28:23.

The duo hit 3 of 4 Marshalls, with the fourth coming on a 32-yard pass from redshirt quarterback Cam Fancher to redshirt rookie wide receiver Charles Montgomery. Fancher completed 18 of 28 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns – the second on a five-yard completion for Ali.

The Thundering Herd defense kept the Panthers to just 74 rushing yards, though Georgia State redshirt junior wide receiver Jamari Thrash hit a 155-yard receiving tag. The gig marked the third consecutive 100-yard gig for Thrash, propelling him past the 1,000-yard mark of the year.

Pat Bartlett (61 games played) and Malik Sumter (53 consecutive games started) set new competitive program records in the sixth year of offense at Panthers.

Southern Miss qualified for the Bowl for the first time since 2019 with a 20-10 win at ULM.

Sophomore running back Frank Gore Jr. led the Golden Eagles with 225 all-purpose yards — a career-high 199 rushing, 26 received — and one touchdown. Gore Jr. finished the regular season with 1,053 yards, surpassing 1,000 yards for the first time in his collegiate career. Redshirt senior kicker Briggs Bourgeois contributed 8-of-20 points to the win while going 2-2 on field goal attempts and 2-2 on extra points.

Louisiana also secured bowl eligibility for the program’s record-breaking fifth episode season with a 41-13 road win at Texas State.

Redshirt junior running back Chris Smith amassed 140 all-purpose yards — 69 rushing, 36 received, 35 return — and two touchdowns in the blowout win. Redshirt freshman running back Dre’lyn Washington, senior wide receiver Michael Jefferson and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Lance Legendre also threw for 80+ yards.

Lincoln Pare, running back sophomore, rushed for a career-high 221 yards and a touchdown for the Bobcats after the loss.

A shootout between two rivals vying for bowl eligibility appropriately required double overtime to decide, with Georgia Southern beating App State 51-48.

After both teams had touchdowns in the first overtime, the Eagle defense forced two negative runs and three incomplete passes to hold App State on a field goal in the second overtime. On the second play of the ensuing Eagle possession, sixth-year quarterback Kyle Vantrease found sixth-year wide receiver Ezrah Archie for a 25-yard touchdown shot to give Georgia Southern bowl eligibility for the fourth time in five seasons to secure.

Vantrease completed 34 of 51 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns while redshirt senior wide receiver Jeremy Singleton (133) and senior wide receiver Khaleb Hood (103) hit 100-yard outs.

App State running back Nate Noel sophomore had a 205-yard day — 171 rushing, 34 receiving — with three rushing touchdowns to speed the Mountaineers in the loss.

For exclusive Sun Belt football content on matchdays and throughout the 2022 season, Follow @SunBeltFB on Twitter.

SUN BELT FOOTBALL – WEEK 13 RESULTS

James Madison defeated. No. 23/23 Coastal Carolina, 47-7
Defeated South Alabama. Old Reign, 27-20
Marshall def. State of Georgia, 28-23
Troy def. State of Arkansas, 48-19
Southern Miss def. ULM, 20-10
Louisiana defeated. State of Texas, 41-13
Georgia Southern def. App Status, 51-48

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