TROY — Khalil McClain did his part for the Troy offense. As predicted, his father, Tim McClain, did his part for his son.
The Trojan receiver had season-highs with eight catches for 128 yards and included a 7-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to pull Troy within 11 points with 2:47 remaining Saturday against Georgia State.
McClain knew that wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy his dad.
“It was still there,” he said, asked about the family critique he had predicted last week before the road trip to Atlanta. “I got two passes that were knocked down, and he wasn’t happy about that.
“I caught eight balls, but he said I should have caught 10 with four touchdowns. That’s what he said. Four touchdowns, 10 receptions, that would have been nice. I felt I played all right, but overall we didn’t get the win. That hurt.”
McClain wasn’t the only Trojan who couldn’t fully celebrate a strong individual performance in a team loss. Quarterback Kaleb Barker threw for 421 yards and two touchdowns. Running back DK Billingsley rushed for three touchdowns, the first Troy running back to do that since Jordan Chunn against Alabama State in 2017.
Defensively, co-captain Jarvis Hayes of Slocomb got his first interception and made seven tackles. Linebacker Carlton Martial made 12 tackles, 1.5 for loss, his third game with double-digit tackles this season.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if you have a good game and you lose. You don’t have the outcome that we were looking for,” McClain said. “It’s OK to have a good game, I guess. We didn’t play terrible on offense. … We just didn’t score enough.”
Receiver Kaylon Geiger said playing well in a loss is still a loss.
“It’s very tough to take,” Geiger said. “There’s not anybody on our team who is OK with a loss. We have to focus and bounce back, move to the next game. That has to be our mindset.”
Billingsley called the result “a tough pill to swallow.”
“Individually, I’m very proud of that (three rushing TDs), but the objective as a team is to win,” the running back said. “Our goal every week is to get a ‘dub.’ I’m very sad that happened, but we have another opportunity this Saturday to get back to .500.
“Our goals are in front of us, what we want to do accomplish this season. Our heads are going to be high, and we’re going to keep practicing hard.”
Troy put up 517 yards of offense, was 4-for-4 with four touchdowns in the red zone and was 8 of 13 on third down — and lost 52-33.
“You can have a lot of goals on offense, you can have a lot of things you want to achieve in each game, but at the end of the day we’re responsible for scoring one more point than the opponent,” offensive coordinator Ryan Pugh said. “We didn’t do that. We’ve got to execute better.”
Ground and pound: For the first time this season, Troy’s defensive front got whipped. Georgia State gained 390 yards on the ground, 579 total yards and was 12 of 18 on third and fourth down.
“They were in third-and-short all day,” defensive coordinator Brandon Hall noted. “I thought the tell-tale tape of the game for me is we brought a run blitz on third-and-1 and we wrap him up for a 2-yard loss and the guy falls forward for the first down. I felt like it was that all night.
“They just physically lined up and manhandled us up front. That hadn’t happened all year. It was a little bit of a culture shock for our guys.”
Banged up: Troy had a number of in-game injuries to go with the rash of folks either limited or not available to play against Georgia State.
Two offensive linemen, left tackle Austin Stidham and left guard Kirk Kelley, missed time. Both could be ready to play by Saturday. Stidham was replaced by Bobby Klemm and Jake Andrews filled in while Kelley was out. Kelley returned for the second half.
“Bobby came in and played well. Jake finished the second quarter and did well,” Pugh said. “That’s a good sign for us up front, having some depth and being able to rotate some guys in there to stay fresh — because we’re going to play fast and I think everybody knows that. We’re going to get a lot of snaps in the football game.”
Freshman safety Dell Pettus was knocked out of the game and is going through Troy’s concussion protocol.
Players of the Week: McClain’s eight-catch, 128-yard performance earned him Troy’s offensive player of the game.
Reggie Todd, who provided a 79-yard kickoff return that set up Troy’s final touchdown, was the special teams player.
“The thing that is impressive about Reggie is that he is a tough guy that doesn’t miss practice and he hasn’t been healthy since Akron,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said. “He has continued to fight and play.”
The defensive player of the game was Slocomb’s Hayes, who is busy because of the Trojans’ lack of depth at a bandit linebacker position that looked very full at the start of the season.
“The problem with Jarvis is right now there is not a backup for Jarvis,” Hall said. “Zo (Bridges) is out and Kevin (Nixon) is out. We’ve moved Patrick Richardson, who is a walk-on, backing him up.
“Jarvis is having to play a lot more than he’s had to in the past. He’s played a lot of snaps. He’s been really good, a lot of energy. He never gets too low or too high. He’s a really good football player and he’s even a better person. He’s a good football player, man. He’s having a good season.”
Candy cravings: Selected Troy coaches and players were asked to name their favorite candy for Halloween. Here you go:
Ryan Pugh: Reese’s cups.
Tray Eafford: Reese’s.
Craig Slocum: Sour patch.
Khalil McClain: Twix or Hershey’s white chocolate.
Kaylon Geiger: Reese’s.
DK Billingsley: Skittles and Reese’s.