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Troy to host Texas State for home finale

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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

The Troy football team puts its undefeated Sun Belt record on the line against Texas State in Saturday’s last home game of the season at Veterans Memorial Stadium. 

Last Saturday against Georgia Southern, Troy fell behind early but took the lead just before halftime and never looked back. 

“Saturday was probably the most complete game that we’ve played all year,” said Troy Head Coach Neal Brown. “We got a big win on the road to stay undefeated in the conference.” 

Troy sits alone atop the Sun Belt East. A win and an Appalachian State loss on Saturday will clinch the division for the Trojans.

The winner of the East Division will play host to the inaugural Sun Belt Championship due to the Trojans and Mountaineers having better records and tiebreakers over the top West teams. 

Heading into Saturday’s game, Georgia Southern was among the FBS leaders in rushing yards per game, but Troy held strong, allowing just 101 yards on the ground. 

The Eagles’ leading rusher on the day was sophomore Shai Werts, who accumulated just 35 yards on the ground. 

The Trojans gained 140 yards on the ground and were led by running back B.J. Smith, who scored twice on the ground. 

Quarterback Sawyer Smith continued his streak of consistent play with 287 yards and a touchdown from a 21-for-28 passing performance with no interceptions. 

The story of the game was freshman wide receiver Luke Whittemore, who hauled in three catches for a total of 110 yards and a touchdown. 

Now, the Trojans are preparing to take on 3-7 Texas State. 

The season has been a disappointment yet an improvement for the Bobcats under Head Coach Everett Withers. 

Despite their record, the Bobcats have won two of their last three games, including a road win at Georgia State. Three of their losses have come within just six points. 

The Bobcats rank 118th of 129 FBS teams in total offense, garnering an average of 330.4 yards per game. 

Quarterback Willie Jones III leads the team in passing and rushing with 984 yards and seven touchdowns through the air and 402 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

But freshman quarterback Tyler Vitt isn’t far behind with 871 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. 

Last week, the freshman got the nod against Appalachian State, but Texas State fell short at home 38-7. 

Senior tight end Keenen Brown leads the team in receiving yards and ranks eighth in the Sun Belt with 527 yards this season. His five touchdowns put him fifth in the conference just behind Troy’s Deondre Douglas and Damion Willis. 

The Bobcat defense ranks better than the offense at 60th in the NCAA and fifth in the Sun Belt Conference, allowing 389.4 yards per game.

The highlight of the defense is the secondary. The defense allows only 206 passing yards per game, which is 41st in the country and third in the Sun Belt.  

The secondary doesn’t force many turnovers. The defense has just six interceptions on the season compared to 12 for the Trojans. 

The Bobcats hang their hat on forcing fumbles. This season, the Bobcats have recovered 11 fumbles, which is tied for fifth in the FBS. The Trojans have recovered eight fumbles, which ties for 36th in the country.

The turnover battle will be key on Saturday. Whoever gains an advantage in that statistic could come out victorious. 

Troy and Texas State will play Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.