The Trojan football team routed conference foe New Mexico State 52-6, starting the season with a 3-1 record for the first time in Troy’s 15-year FBS history.
A crowd of 21,146 gathered at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday to watch the Trojans (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) take on the Aggies (1-3, 0-1 Sun Belt). Following Saturday’s performance, the Trojans received a vote to be ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The last time Troy appeared in the rankings was in week 14 of the 2009 regular season.
“I’m proud of their effort,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We took the ball away from them five times, and we didn’t turn it over. That was the difference in the game. We answered the bell three weeks in a row, and we’ve got a big game (next week) against a team that came down and beat us on homecoming last year.”
The Trojans got on the board first after junior quarterback Brandon Silvers capped an explosive drive with a quarterback keeper, taking it in for the score from one yard out. After taking the 7-0 lead, the Trojans never seemed to look back.
On the ensuing Aggie possession, New Mexico State drove inside the red zone. Senior quarterback Tyler Rogers threw for the end zone, where senior cornerback Jalen Rountree was waiting to pick it off.
The Trojan defenders’ five interceptions snagged in the game, three of which were picked off in the end zone, were the most they’ve had since the 2008 season. That stat doubled its season total, and the team now leads the nation with 10 interceptions.
After finishing the first quarter with a 7-0 lead, Troy exploded in the second quarter to score 24 unanswered points. Of his receivers, Silvers was able to find junior Emanuel Thompson and sophomore Sidney Davis for touchdowns in the quarter, extending Troy’s lead.
Freshman running back Jabir Frye also contributed before halftime, breaking through the Aggie punt protection to block a kick that Demetrius Cane, a senior linebacker, returned for the score. For his efforts, Frye was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
As the first half came to a close, senior kicker Ryan Kay sent a 34-yard kick through the uprights, giving Troy a 31-0 lead going into the locker room. With the kick, Kay moved himself into ninth all-time in Troy history with 20 field goals.
In addition to blocking a punt in the first half, Frye added to his special teams highlight reel by returning the second-half kickoff from one goal line to the other for the touchdown. His return is only the sixth in Troy history and only the 10th 100-yard return in conference history.
Only two other Trojans have returned kicks for 100 yards—current Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin and Super Bowl champion Jerrel Jernigan. Furthermore, Troy’s special teams unit scored two touchdowns in one game for the first time in Troy’s FBS history.
Troy found the end zone twice more in the remainder of the game. Junior running back Jordan Chunn scored on the ground midway through the third quarter, and sophomore wide receiver Sidney Davis tacked on a rushing touchdown in the fourth.
New Mexico State got on the board as the third quarter was coming to a close as Tyler Rogers’ pass to the end zone found redshirt-freshman receiver Izaiah Lottie. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, however, leaving the visitors’ score at 6.
Brandon Silvers went 23-for-32 through the air with two touchdowns, placing him in a tie with Kelvin Simmons for fourth all-time at Troy with 40 career TD passes. Silvers also had his one score on the ground.
Three different Trojans recorded a rushing touchdown, but Jordan Chunn highlighted the evening with his 64 yards on 15 touches and one score.
Rogers went 29-for-54 through the air for 445 yards, one score and five interceptions. The Aggies racked up 539 yards of total offense to Troy’s 492. Senior receiver Tyrian Taylor carried the Aggie offense with his 7 catches for 157 yards.
The Trojan defense held the Aggies to just five conversions on 18 third-down attempts, as well as recording a season-high three sacks.
Troy will travel to Idaho on Saturday, Oct. 1, in another Sun Belt matchup. Kickoff against the Vandals is set for 4 p.m.