Trojans unbeaten in Sun Belt

Daniel Hunt

Staff Writer

Damion Willis’ career-high 213 receiving yards led the way against Louisiana-Lafayette (4-5, 2-3 Sun Belt) on homecoming Saturday, giving Troy football  (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) its 11th straight conference win with three games left to play.

Willis ended his day with the most receiving yards in a game by a Sun Belt player this season, while teammate B.J. Smith broke a Trojan record with his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game. 

Sawyer Smith’s 317-yard passing performance was also a career high. 

With both teams averaging 34 points per game and 400-plus yards of offense, a shootout loomed. 

After both teams traded field goals early, it did not take long to live up to expectations. 

Willis’ 75-yard scoring reception gave the Trojans the lone touchdown of the quarter. Willis’ first three catches amounted to 137 yards through just one quarter of play. 

With a 10-3 lead, the Trojan defense forced and recovered a Levi Lewis fumble on the 23-yard line that set up B.J Smith’s 10th touchdown of the year. 

The Trojans took a 23-3 lead into halftime after kicking two consecutive field goals, allowing just three points against the high-powered Louisiana offense.

Troy became only the third team to hold Louisiana to three points or under before halftime this season. The previous teams include then No. 16 Mississippi State and No. 1 Alabama. 

The Ragin’ Cajuns finally answered on offense on their first possession of the second half with an eight-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. 

After a Trojan field goal put the score 26-10, Louisiana snuck back into the game with a Trey Ragas 5-yard rushing touchdown. 

A costly sack allowed by the Troy offense in the fourth quarter with less than six minutes left gave Louisiana the ball back with an opportunity to cut the lead to three points. 

Just as Louisiana started to get into gear, Kyler Knudsen’s first career interception on Troy’s 25-yard line looked to seal the win for the Trojans, but costly penalties forced Troy to punt with under two minutes. 

Three consecutive sacks and an interception by Melvin Tyus in Louisiana’s final drive put the game on ice and gave Troy the victory. 

Tron Folsom led the way with 11 tackles, while senior safety Cedarius Rookard missed the game with an injury. 

Walk-on Tyler Knudsen’s first start came on Saturday in place of Rookard. Knudsen had seven tackles and an interception. After the game, Knudsen was awarded a scholarship in an emotional showing. 

Louisiana had been held under 300 yards of offense only twice this season. The first came in a showdown against No. 1 Alabama when the Cajuns put up 280 yards in a blowout loss. 

Six games later, the Trojans allowed just 270 yards, a season low for the Cajuns. 

The Trojans will take the field against Georgia Southern Saturday, Nov. 10, at noon at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. 

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