(PHOTO/ Rojan Maharjan)
Sophomore DK Billingsley takes a handoff against the Southern Miss defense. Billingsley posted 100 yards on 22 carries, with a score.
After picking up the first road win of the season, the Trojans return home to kick off conference action against Arkansas State on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy’s Military Appreciation game.
Troy defeated Akron in a convincing fashion, striking first and ending the game with 28 unanswered points.
DK Billingsley leads the squad with four touchdowns on the season after scoring from a yard out in the third quarter. Billingsley rushed for a career-high 100 yards on 22 carries.
Kaleb Barker finished the game with three touchdowns passes for his third straight multi-touchdown game.
The Red Wolves come into The Vet after picking up their second win of the season over Southern Illinois, 41-28.
Quarterback Logan Bonner and two of his wideouts, Kirk Merritt and Omar Bayless, dictated the performance for Arkansas State. Bonner completed 17 of 31 passes for 320 yards, with 13 of those to either Bayless or Merritt.
In the absence of B.J. Smith, many believed the passing game would become even more critical for the Trojans. With the Red Wolves also relying heavily on passing, this week’s matchup will be a showdown in the air.
“Their quarterback, Logan Bonner, is very impressive,” Head Coach Chip Lindsey said. “I’m extremely familiar with Omar Bayless because I recruited him a bit at Southern Miss.
“He’s very impressive. I think Kirk Merritt is a guy that is very explosive for them and was highly recruited. So, they’ve got big wideouts that are athletic and very skilled.”
Despite getting outgained in total offense last week, Arkansas State managed a victory through the team’s 357 yards passing.
The Trojans have numerous options in the backfield but will have to be able to capitalize on those opportunities to overthrow the Red Wolves offense.
However, the air game won’t be the only race on Saturday.
On special teams, Arkansas State’s Cody Grace posted a nice night punting the ball, averaging a career-high 50.0 yards per punt on four attempts with a long of 57.
Last week, Tyler Sumpter averaged 52.7 yards per punt with two 50+ punts on three attempts.
Both teams will have to capitalize on their already impressive punting game in order to pin back the opposing offense as far as possible to counteract the long ball.
Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. in Troy. The Trojans will honor all military personnel with military servicemen leading Trojan Walk, a special halftime performance and a pregame flyover.
The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.