Troy holds off Akron 22-17

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy football team edged past the Akron Zips 22-17 Saturday, escaping with a thrilling win in front of Veterans Memorial Stadium’s third highest attendance packing the stands.

The Trojans led for much of the game, but a late surge from the Zips put the Trojans’ backs against the wall, paving the way for a game-winning drive for Troy. That drive was capped by a 23-yard TD pass from Brandon Silvers to Deondre Douglas with 1:06 left in the game.

The Trojans fell behind early after coughing up the football on the opening drive, allowing for an Akron field goal.

Troy erased the three-point deficit with a touchdown from running back Jordan Chunn. Chunn punched it in from six yards out to put the Trojans up 7-3, a lead they didn’t give up until the final quarter.

The Trojans tacked on two more scores before the halftime break behind the feet of Bratcher Underwood and Kaleb Barker. Underwood sent a 22-yard kick through the uprights to give Troy a 10-3 advantage midway through the second quarter, and backup quarterback Kaleb Barker broke a 48-yard run to take a commanding 16-3 lead heading into the locker rooms.

Both offenses had trouble getting anything going against the opposing defense in the third quarter, with Akron finally breaking the stalemate with 2:59 remaining in the quarter. Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson found Kwad Smith 29 yards out for the Zips’ first touchdown of the night.

Akron’s offense continued to claw itself back into the game as it pieced together a 57-yard drive capped off by a four-yard rush from Warren Ball.

Following the extra point, the Zips held a 17-16 advantage with 5:37 remaining in the game. After a pair of 3-and-outs, Akron downed a punt deep in Trojan territory, forcing Troy to begin the drive in the shadow of its own goalpost on the 3 yard line.

Silver took control during the eventual game-winning drive, completing seven of nine passes for 84 yards. Silvers and the offense encountered a fourth-and-five from the Troy 40, but they went for it, and Silvers found Douglas for a 16-yard gain to keep the drive alive.

Just three plays later, Silvers found Douglas once more for the go-ahead score to win the game. The pass capped a 97-yard drive, the longest so far in the season.

Akron got one more shot on offense with 66 seconds remaining, but Kris Weatherspoon picked off his second pass of the night, allowing Troy to kneel the clock away for the win.

“We are an experienced football team in a lot of ways,” said Head Coach Neal Brown after the win. “This is a tough stretch that we’re on.

“I think our guys are probably a little bit tired, but everybody is; that’s the way it is. This is how I know our team has a chance. We’re sitting here 3-1, but I know we have a chance even though we have not played near our potential. I will say this: For two weeks in a row, we’ve found ways to win games at the end, and that takes character and toughness.”

Silvers and Chunn carried the workload for the Trojan offense. Silvers completed 28-41 for 314 yards, while Chunn picked up his seventh game with over 100 yards rushing and picked up his 42nd career touchdown.

The Trojans will return to action this Saturday for a much anticipated matchup against No. 25 LSU. The Tigers will welcome Troy to Death Valley for the first matchup since the 2008 season, when the Tigers escaped with a 40-31 win.

The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 6 p.m.

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