The Troy University football team (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) topped Southern Miss (2-1, 0-0 C-USA) in a 37-31 thriller that went down to the final seconds.
“This is going to be a defining moment for our team and our program,” Head Coach Neal Brown said after the game. “This is the biggest win, maybe, since the 2010 bowl game.”
The Golden Eagles (2-1, 0-0 C-USA) got on the board first as junior quarterback Brandon Silvers’ pass was intercepted and taken 61 yards for the score by Devonta Foster.
On the ensuing Trojan drive, Silvers found sophomore wide receiver Deondre Douglas for the 34-yard passing touchdown.
The Trojans didn’t trail for the remainder of the game.
Southern Miss started its next drive on its own 19-yard line but soon fumbled, setting up Silvers’ second touchdown pass of the game. He found junior wide receiver Emanuel Thompson from 29 yards out.
After forcing the Golden Eagles into a failed fourth-down conversion, the Trojan defense helped set up senior kicker Ryan Kay for a 30-yard field goal. That made the score 17-7 with 5:22 left in the first quarter.
The Trojan defense forced Southern Miss into nine three-and-outs and intercepted two passes in the game.
As the second quarter began, the Golden Eagle offense stalled on the Troy 24-yard line, forcing sophomore kicker Parker Shaunfield to kick a 41-yard field goal. Southern Miss found itself within a touchdown with 14:47 left before halftime.
After a three-and-out on the ensuing Trojan drive, the Golden Eagle offense began its drive in the shadow of its own goal post.
Three plays later, senior quarterback Nick Mullens’ pass was picked off by senior defensive end Rashad Dillard, who returned the ball to the 13-yard line. Two plays after that, Silvers found junior running back Andre Flakes through the air for an 11-yard score.
The touchdown tied Silvers with Levi Brown for sixth all-time in Troy history in career touchdown passes with 38.
Junior running back Ito Smith cut USM’s deficit to seven when he rumbled across the goal line from two yards out, making the score 24-17 going into the locker room.
On Southern Miss’ first play of the second half, Ito Smith took the ball up the middle for a 70-yard score.
The shootout continued as Kay tacked on a 42-yard field goal, his second of the game, to give Troy a three-point lead with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
After holding the Golden Eagle offense on a fake punt attempt, the Trojan offense took the field on the USM 49. Junior running back Jordan Chunn took both touches on the two-play, 49-yard drive, scoring his first touchdown of the night on a 39-yard rush.
Southern Miss was able to find the end zone through the air as the third quarter was ticking away, making the score 34-31.
Troy was able to tack on one final score with the help of the Sun Belt’s Special Teams Player of the Week, as Kay booted through a 43-yard field goal, his third of the game and his second from 40-plus yards. Kay was also named the Lou Groza Star of the Week for his performance.
Southern Miss had one last chance to take the game, down 37-31, with just over a minute to play. The Golden Eagles drove to the Troy nine-yard line and called a timeout, giving themselves one last opportunity to score.
Mullens’ pass fell incomplete as time expired, however, and Troy came away with the win.
For the home team, Mullens went 24-for-52 through the air for 263 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Smith ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
For Troy, Silvers completed 10 of his 27 attempts through the air for 123 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Chunn also highlighted the offense with 176 yards rushing and a touchdown on 36 touches.
The Trojans return home on Saturday, Sept. 24, for their first conference matchup. Kickoff against New Mexico State is scheduled for 6 p.m.