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Trojans fall in finale

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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

The Troy football team concluded its regular season with a 21-10 loss at Appalachian State, ending the Trojans’ 13-game Sun Belt Conference win streak. 

With the loss, the Trojans finish the season with a 7-1 conference record and a 9-3 overall record. 

Troy claims a share of the first-ever East Division championship, but Appalachian State will move on to the inaugural Sun Belt Championship by virtue of owning the tiebreaker over the Trojans.

This Saturday, the Mountaineers will play host in Boone, North Carolina, to Louisiana, which the Trojans beat 26-16 earlier this season.

On Saturday, Appalachian State raced out to a 21-3 lead in the first half due to Troy’s offensive and defensive struggles.

The Mountaineers scored three touchdowns in the first four drives of the game before the Trojan defense found an answer.

The Trojans failed to get past midfield on their first four drives, and two of them ended in lost fumbles. 

But early in the second half, Troy showed signs of life on offense.

After punting on its first drive, the Trojans stopped a fake punt from Appalachian State and used the momentum to drive 49 yards on six plays to score their first touchdown of the game.

Quarterback Sawyer Smith threw a pass that was tipped but fell into the hands of senior wideout Deondre Douglas for the 17th touchdown reception of his career. 

Douglas led the team in receiving with six receptions for 69 yards on the day.

Leading wide receiver Damion Willis missed his second consecutive game due to injury.

But that was the only time the Trojans got going on offense.

The Trojans had five more drives with none garnering over 10 yards, and one ended with an interception at midfield.

The Mountaineers failed to score on any of their second-half drives, but their drive to open the quarter took eight minutes off the clock, limiting the time for the Trojans to make a comeback. 

For the game, the Mountaineers had the ball 11 minutes more than the Trojans did.

The Trojans gained 232 yards of total offense while the Mountaineers gained 314 yards.

Running back B.J. Smith led the team with 53 yards rushing on 15 carries. 

Sawyer Smith threw for 160 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on the day. 

The Trojan defense, which usually has a stout rush defense, allowed 201 yards on the ground to the Mountaineers, but it held quarterback Zac Thomas to 113 yards on 50 percent passing.

A bright spot for the Trojans was punter and placekicker Tyler Sumpter. 

Sumpter had two punts of 70 yards or more, making him the only punter in the NCAA to have multiple such punts in the same game and the first since 2015.

Since Troy will not be playing in the Sun Belt Conference championship, the Trojans will have to wait until Dec. 2 to learn their bowl fate.

This season marks the third consecutive in which the Trojans will make a bowl game and reach the mark of nine wins under head coach Neal Brown.