Troy Athletics photo
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sawyer Smith (above), in his first start on the season, posted 135 yards through the air in Troy’s first road loss of the year. Smith went 13-25 with one interception while backup quarterback Gunnar Watson completed three of his four attempts for 25 yards. Liberty’s Stephen Calvert went 17-31 through the air, posting 238 yards in arguably Liberty’s biggest win on the 2018 season.
The Troy football team traveled on the road to play the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Virginia, losing 22-16 to highlight the Flames’ inaugural season in Division I play.
Before this game, the Trojans were hit with tough news, losing starting quarterback Kaleb Barker for the year with a torn ACL. It is reported that the surgery was successful and he should be ready for spring practice according to Head Coach Neal Brown.
Leading the Sun Belt East with a 5-1 record and coming off a big win against Coastal Carolina, the Trojans were riding high.
The first quarter started off slow for both the Trojans and the Flames, going 3-and-out on both drives. Once the Flames received the ball back, Cedarius Rookard and the Trojan defense forced an interception. The Trojans couldn’t capitalize off the turnover when they fumbled the ball back to the Flames a few plays after.
After going back-and-forth with defensive stands, Sawyer Smith and the Trojan offense got into a groove with a few successful B.J. Smith runs which led to Sawyer Smith’s 49-yard pass to Damion Willis and his 23-yard touchdown pass to Deondre Douglas.
The Flames would soon answer with a 29-yard touchdown of their own when Stephen Calvert completed a pass to Khaleb Coleman to tie the game 7-7.
The Trojans weren’t done on offense, coming back with Gunnar Watson at quarterback. This drive leads to a Tyler Sumpter 38-yard field goal.
The Flames weren’t backing down after two successful Trojan drives. They answered with another touchdown when Peytton Pickett ran into the end zone from 2 yards out.
This led to halftime with the Trojans being down 14-10 to the Flames.
The Trojans received the ball after the half and pounded the ball on the Flames defense, driving down the field to set up another Sumpter field goal. The 50-yard field goal chipped away at the Liberty lead, giving the Flames the 14-13 advantage.
The third quarter went on as both defenses making big plays. Liberty forced an interception, shutting down hopes of a quick Trojan comeback.
The Trojans received the ball at the end of the third quarter and Sumpter would tack on another field goal, this time from 26 yards out, as the offense stalled once again.
The Liberty Flames received the ball in the middle of the fourth and went on a 14 play, 89-yard scoring drive. The drive was capped by a Stephen Calvert pass to B.J. Farrow, followed by a successful two-point conversion. This drive would ultimately put the game on ice and end all hopes of a Trojan comeback.
Sawyer Smith would finish the game completing 13 of 25 passes for 135 yards with one passing touchdown and one interception. B.J. Smith led the rushing attack with 20 carries for 111 yards on the ground.
The Trojans will play South Alabama next at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. This conference rivalry game will be on Oct. 23, which will be aired on ESPN 2 at 7 p.m.