The Troy Trojans made history Sunday, claiming the No. 25 rank in the latest AP Poll after topping fellow Sun Belt front-runner Appalachian State 28-24.
A day after its victory, Troy became the first Sun Belt school to ever crack the top 25 in either that poll or the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. It also marked the first time that the Trojans have been ranked in their FBS history.
With two perfect conference records on the line, the Trojans (8-1, 5-0 Sun Belt) handed the Mountaineers (7-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) their first conference loss in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“(This is a) huge win for our program,” Head Coach Neal Brown said after the game. “This is the biggest Sun Belt Conference game this late in the season in a long time, setting up an even bigger game on Thursday night in front of a national audience.”
The Trojans held an early 14-point advantage in the first quarter, but the Mountaineers retaliated with two scores of their own to even the game before the half. A.J. Howard took a Trojan fumble 71 yards to put Appalachian State on the board, followed by a 32-yard touchdown run by Jalin Moore.
After the half, Appalachian State took its first lead with a 47-yard field goal from Michael Rubino.
Troy regained the lead with 1:09 remaining in the third as quarterback Brandon Silvers broke free on a 57-yard run. Silvers’ career-long TD run made the score 21-17, one of four lead changes throughout the game.
Troy’s seven-game win streak was in jeopardy as it trailed 24-21 with the clock under two minutes to play. Arguably the most crucial moment in the game for Trojans, though, was a fourth-and-6 play with under two minutes remaining.
Silvers found wide receiver Sydney Davis for a 43-yard reception that kept the game alive, sending the home crowd into an uproar.
“It was fourth down, so either you make the catch or you lose,” said Davis after the game. “You win or go home.”
Brown also weighed in on the critical, drive-extending play.
“That’s the loudest I’ve ever heard Veterans Memorial Stadium,” he said. “I thought our fans were great, especially our students.”
The play set up Chunn for the go-ahead score, his second of the night. Chunn also made history Saturday night, becoming only the ninth Trojan to pass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. He is on pace to set Troy’s single-season record, needing only 310 more yards to do so.
Trailing 28-24, the Mountaineers tried a last-second Hail Mary that fell to the turf, sealing the victory for the Trojans.
The bowl-bound Trojans will put their perfect conference record to the test when Arkansas State comes to town on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.