Troy runs past UMass, 52-31

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy football team continued its run at history, cruising past UMass 52-31 in Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The Trojans (7-1, 4-0 Sun Belt) are off to their best start in FBS history and are continuing their push to be included in the AP Top 25.

Head Coach Neal Brown led Troy past his alma mater, as the Trojans picked up their sixth straight win heading into a stretch of four consecutive conference games.

“I think the growth of our program and the maturity of our program is showing,” Brown said after the win. “We’ve come a long way. We were 14 points in the hole the last two weeks and came back and won convincingly.”

UMass jumped out to a 14-point lead after it scored on its first two drives of the game. The first Minutemen touchdown came after a four-play, 75-yard scoring drive, and the second came after a Troy turnover that gave the visitors the ball inside the red zone.

The Trojan offense responded, rallying back with three first-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead. Troy did not trail for the remainder of the game.

Troy scored once more in the first half, as junior quarterback Brandon Silvers found junior receiver John Johnson through the air for a five-yard score. As time expired in the second quarter, the teams headed to the locker rooms with a 28-17 Troy lead.

UMass pulled within four on its first drive of the second half, making the score 28-24. Troy put the rally to rest, however, as Ryan Kay sent a 21-yarder through the uprights to build a comfortable lead.

After a muffed kickoff by the Minutemen, the Trojan offense came back out, this time starting inside the UMass 20 yard line. Troy then dialed up a trick play, a double pass play from Johnson, to take a 38-24 lead.

Johnson’s pass went for a touchdown, making him the first Troy player since 2008 to throw a touchdown pass and catch another in a single game.

With the third quarter coming to a close, Troy held a 14-point lead and began to put an uncertain game away. The fourth quarter featured two more Trojan scores and a late score by UMass, putting it all to rest at 52-31.

The Trojan defense made a statement in the game, holding the Minutemen to just 44 yards on the ground.

“We’ve done it all year,” Brown said, referring to the defensive performance. “That’s something we take pride in.”

Troy has held five of its eight opponents so far this season to under 100 yards on the ground. The Trojans also recorded five sacks on Saturday, each by a different player.

A late interception put the team’s season total at 15, which is fifth most in Troy’s FBS era.

Silvers led the Trojans on offense, completing 26 of his 36 attempts through the air for three touchdowns. For the Minutemen, Andrew Ford went 23-for-44 for 316 yards and three scores as well.

The Trojans will return to the Vet on Saturday for an important conference game against Appalachian State.

The Mountaineers (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) come to town with a perfect conference record on the line, as both programs battle for the top spot in the Sun Belt. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m.

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