/Trojans improve to 6-1 and bowl eligibility by defeating South 28-21

Trojans improve to 6-1 and bowl eligibility by defeating South 28-21

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Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

Last Thursday, the Belt came back to Troy.

The Trojans football team scored the final 18 points of the game, rallying to defeat South Alabama 28-21 in Mobile. The conference and in-state rivalry, known as the “Battle for the Belt,” went down to the final seconds in front of the Jaguars’ second-biggest crowd in history (30,837 in attendance).

Troy (6-1, 4-0 Sun Belt) picked up its sixth win, making it the first Sun Belt team to become bowl eligible this season. With the win, Troy kept its perfect conference record intact and improved to 3-2 in the overall series between the two teams.

Following the win, the Trojans received six votes in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the Coaches Poll. For the second week in a row, they are the only Sun Belt team to earn any votes in both polls.

Junior running back Jordan Chunn was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week after his performance. He had 143 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

“This game meant something,” Head Coach Neal Brown said following the win. “Our students and band did a tremendous job. The fan base really turned out in big numbers. Everything we worked on in the offseason was overcoming adversity, and I think that really paid off.”

The Jaguars (3-4, 0-4 Sun Belt) jumped out to an early lead after a Trojan fumble and a bad snap on a punt. South Alabama capitalized on starting each of the scoring drives in Troy territory, scoring 14 points in the first quarter.

Junior running back Xavier Johnson punched in both scores from one and five yards out.

The game was fast-paced from start to finish, with Troy responding with a score of its own. Junior quarterback Brandon Silvers completed the longest pass of his career, an 80-yard score to junior Tevaris McCormick, on the final play of the first quarter. After the PAT from Ryan Kay, the Jaguars held a 14-7 lead.

The seven-point deficit stood until the teams exchanged scores in the second quarter. Kay sent two field goals—a career-long 47-yarder and another from 28—through the uprights, cutting into the Jaguars’ lead.

South Alabama found the end zone once again when sophomore quarterback Dallas Davis hit his senior tight end Gerald Everett for a 19-yard score. The latter of Kay’s two field goals sent the teams to the locker rooms with a 21-13 Jaguar lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, the final 15 minutes of regulation began with only eight points separating the two teams.

On its first drive of the fourth quarter, Troy began a comeback. Chunn led an eight-play, 83-yard drive that tied the game at 21-21 with 11:12 left to play. Chunn punched in the touchdown from two yards out, but it was the trick-play two-point conversion that tied the game for the Trojans.

Silvers handed the ball off to junior receiver John Johnson, who threw it back across the field. Silvers caught the screen pass and ran it into the end zone.

After a fumble, the Troy defense forced a crucial three-and-out, allowing the offense to come back out for a possible game-winning drive.

Silvers found McCormick for a 24-yard gain and sophomore receiver Sidney Davis for a 42-yard completion, putting Troy on the South Alabama one-yard line. Chunn did the rest, punching it in from one yard out to take the lead and seal the victory.

The Trojan defense shut out the Jaguars in the second half, finishing the night with eight tackles for loss and six sacks, all while holding South Alabama to 146 total yards after the half. Redshirt junior Rashad Dillard claimed two of those sacks for 17 yards, while Blace Brown, a redshirt sophomore cornerback, forced a fumble.

Brown is tied for third in the nation in interceptions with four.

Silvers went 28-for-42 for 395 yards, one score and no picks, while McCormick racked up 127 yards and a touchdown on just four receptions. Johnson and junior receiver Emanuel Thompson combined for 13 catches and 146 yards.

The “Battle for the Belt” champions are off this week, but they return on Saturday, Nov. 5, to host UMass at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Kickoff time is TBA.