Troy beats No. 25 LSU 24-21 in Death Valley, breaks Tigers’ 49-game non-conference home win streak

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

It’s being called the greatest win in Troy football history.

The team and the university were cast into the spotlight in a matter of hours, carried by a Trojan football team that picked up what could be the upset of the year in college football.

Troy (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) stunned LSU on the Tigers’ homecoming night, winning 24-21 in front of 99,897 fans in Tiger Stadium. What’s more, the Trojans received a paycheck to the tune of $985,000 to walk out of Death Valley with a win over a ranked opponent for the first time in 13 years.

Troy is now the only non-conference team to escape Death Valley with a victory since UAB did it in 2000, back when Nick Saban was still coaching the Tigers. It’s a feat that earned Troy the title of Football Writers Association National Team of the Week for the first time ever.

“We’ve been knocking on the door for a long time,” said Head Coach Neal Brown following the win. “Can we step up and perform for four quarters and play a physical brand of football against a really good team, one of the traditional powerhouses in college football?

“That wasn’t a fluke win. We played physical, we ran the football, we ate up clock, our defense tackled, we swarmed to the football, and I’m really proud of our guys.”

The Trojans never trailed in a venue even the best SEC competitors fear visiting, especially for a night game. Legendary University of Alabama Head Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant even said, “Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It’s like being inside a drum.”

Troy stepped up to the challenge, however, and jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the 25th-ranked Tigers barely into the second half.

The Trojans’ commanding lead started on their very first drive when they capitalized on a fumble recovery which gave them excellent field position. It was a drive that came courtesy of a Kris Weatherspoon fumble recovery at the LSU 30 yard line. Quarterback Brandon Silvers ended that drive with a 1-yard run that saw the senior diving into the end zone for the score.

After holding LSU scoreless in the first half, the Trojans mounted a late, second-quarter drive that brought them into field goal range just as the game clock hit zero. However, an official review showed Troy had achieved first down yardage with two seconds left on the clock, and therefore, had time to kick a field goal.

Troy’s Evan Legassey took his chance and was able to get just enough distance on his 37-yard attempt to make the score 10-0 going into halftime.

After halftime, Troy came out swinging. Running back Jordan Chunn found his rhythm in the second half and set up his own 1-yard TD run with a 74-yard scamper against an SEC defense. With 13:06 left on the clock, the Trojans held a 17-0 advantage over LSU.

Along with the score, Chunn tallied 191 total yards on the ground, earning him the title of Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week.

Eventually, the Tigers got on the board late in the third quarter as a seven-yard touchdown pass brought LSU within 10. Troy answered with a 64-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, a score that proved to be all Troy needed to escape with the win. Senior running back Josh Anderson punched it in from seven yards out, making for a 24-7 score.

The Tigers refused to give up, cheered on by what was left of the fans on homecoming night. LSU scored twice more behind the arm of quarterback Danny Etling, bringing the Tigers to within three points with under two minutes remaining. After a Trojan punt, LSU had one final shot to steal the win as Etling and the offense headed back on the field with 0:18 left on the clock.

Troy’s Blace Brown then made the interception of his career, a pick that sealed the Trojans’ victory and earned him a spot as the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week.

Following the win, the Trojans received national attention, as well as a warm welcome back to campus.

“To be honest, it still hasn’t hit me yet,” Chunn said in Monday’s press conference. “I see it all over Twitter and Facebook that we just beat LSU.

“That game right there was a statement game. We put everything together as an offense, defense and special teams, so it was a great win.”

Several Trojans of years past tweeted in support of Troy’s historic win, including Super Bowl winners Lawrence Tynes and DeMarcus Ware.

U.S. Rep. and Montgomery native Martha Roby also congratulated the Trojans by tweeting, “HUGE win over LSU!!”

The tweet that had the most people talking, however, was the tweet Troy University’s verified account posted following the win. The simple tweet read, “Hey @LSU, thanks for having us down for homecoming! We really enjoyed it!” The tweet sparked conversations on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and generated 65,400 retweets and 179,000 likes in four days.

The win also brought the coaching expertise of Neal Brown to the national stage, as he was invited for a brief call-in on Monday morning’s edition of “SportsCenter.” Brown reflected on the win and where the team looks to go from here with a bye-week ahead.

Troy now will have time to rest ahead of its in-state rivalry game with South Alabama at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The “Battle for the Belt” is set to kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

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