Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy football team cruised to a victory behind 40 unanswered points to leave Middle Tennessee State with a 47-14 loss Saturday at Floyd Stadium. 

The Trojans returned to Troy with the Palladium trophy, the hardware given to the team that wins the old Sun Belt rivalry coined the Battle for the Palladium. 

“It’s extremely exciting (to start this season off with a win),” said Head Coach Chip Lindsey. “At one point, we weren’t sure if we would play. 

“I told our guys that before we played today ‘let’s appreciate this opportunity to play. We weren’t sure we were going to get to. Let’s go out and play every snap like it could be our last because you never know.’ I think our guys have taken that to heart, and I’m really proud of their effort today.”

Sophomore quarterback Gunnar Watson earned his first start in the win, posting two scores during a 26-for-37 performance through the air. 

No Troy quarterback has taken a victory in his first career start since Corey Robinson and the 2010 Trojans win against Bowling Green. 

Along with Watson’s performance, four different Trojans found the end zone as BJ Smith led the Trojan charge. 

Smith got 10 touches while averaging 8.1 yards per carry. The redshirt senior finished with 81 yards on the day, followed closely by Charles Strong who tallied 54 yards and one score. 

Overall, seven Troy players found the end zone on the day, contributing to the 34-point margin of victory. Five players scored their first career touchdown as the Trojans amassed nearly 500 yards of total offense — the ninth time Lindsey has surpassed the 400-yard mark during his time at Troy.

The Trojan defense allowed less than 250 yards as the Blue Raiders struggled to find an answer to the Troy defense. Jayden McDonald and Dell Pettus led the defensive effort for Troy, both posting five tackles each. 

Terence Dunlap caught a pair of interceptions, two of the three taken from Middle Tennessee quarterback Asher O’Hara. Former walk-on Craig Slocum grabbed the third. 

Troy is set to continue its road stretch as it will travel to Provo, Utah, to take on the No. 18 BYU Cougars. Game time is set for 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 on ESPN.

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