Troy stops rally, downs ULM

Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

Quarterback Kaleb Barker scored four touchdowns as the Troy football team opened Sun Belt Conference play with a 35-27 road win over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. 

For his performance on Saturday, Barker earned Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Troy scored all 35 of its points in the first half and held off a ULM comeback in the second half.

“The clock was our friend tonight without a doubt,” said Troy Head Coach Neal Brown. “That was the best we’ve played all year in the first half and the worst we’ve played in the second half.”

On its final drive, Louisiana-Monroe got deep into Troy territory, but an interception by Marcus Jones sealed the game for the Trojans and stopped a second-half comeback by the Warhawks. 

The win marks seven-straight wins on the road dating back to last season with the last loss coming to Boise State in last season’s road opener.

Troy punted on its first possession, and the Warhawks drove the field 73 yards for a touchdown. Trojans then responded with five unanswered touchdown drives in the first half, including 28 points in the second quarter alone.

In the first half, Barker and Sawyer Smith combined for three touchdowns,  272 yards and 20-21 passing.

But it was a tale of two halves for the Trojans.

The Warhawks held the Trojans scoreless for the entire second half and scored 20 unanswered points of their own, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns, to pull within one score with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter. 

On Troy’s final drive, the offense advanced into Warhawk territory, but a missed field goal from 46 yards out by placekicker Tyler Sumpter set up Louisiana-Monroe for a final drive with no timeouts.

Troy went the entire game without a turnover, and for the first 59 minutes, the Warhawks did too.

But for the second-consecutive week, the Trojans used a late-game interception to seal the game on the opponent’s final drive.

ULM quarterback Caleb Evans threw a pass to the end zone, but Jones earned his first interception of the season with just 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans accumulated 469 total yards of offense compared to 490 for the Warhawks. Louisiana-Monroe outgained Troy 376-101 in the second half. 

Barker accounted for 50 yards and two touchdowns on the ground plus 273 yards and two touchdowns through the air off 23-28 passing. 

Barker is the first Troy quarterback to score multiple rushing touchdowns in a game since 2015.

Running back B.J. Smith had 16 rushes for 63 yards and led the team in rushing for the third consecutive game. 

Wide receiver Sidney Davis led the receiving core with six receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Damion Willis picked up his third and fourth touchdowns of the season.

For the Warhawks, Caleb Evans, the Sun Belt’s leading passer, finished with 290 yards and two touchdowns. Evans also crossed the century mark rushing with 101 yards on the ground. 

Next, the Trojans return home to take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in a Sun Belt East matchup.

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