Special plays: Trojans pick up first conference win

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Defense and special teams proved to be the difference in Troy’s 52-6 route over New Mexico State on Saturday.

“We took the ball away from them five times, and we didn’t turn the ball over,” said head coach Neal Brown. “That was the difference in the game.”

With their first Sun Belt Conference win of the season, the Trojans improve to 3-1. It’s best start to a season since the team made the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001.

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“It was a good win over a New Mexico State team that I think is going to be competitive,” Brown said.

He admits being worried about how the team would play. “We played two road games against teams that I think are going to win 10 or more games in Clemson and Southern Miss. I was worried about this game coming off those away games. We coached the guys hard, and I think the guys were ready to go for the game Saturday, so much credit to them,” Brown said.

Aggie quarterback Tyler Rogers was intercepted five times, once each by Jalen Roundtree, Justin Lucas and Cedarious Rookard and twice by defensive back Blace Brown, who was a receiver last year.

“This was the first time he (Brown) has played defensive back, and he gets two huge picks,” Brown said, adding that several players had big plays. “We have been opportunistic. I don’t think the ball just bounces in your direction. I think you make opportunities.”

Despite the strong defensive performance, the Trojans allowed 539 yards of offense including 445 through the air.

“I think that is extremely embarrassing to put what we did Saturday out there … on film,” said Trojans defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. “Some of the techniques that we did, the way we played high, our eye discipline … there were countless number of things that I felt were absolutely embarrassing to have that out there.”

“Defensively, we played against a very good offense,” Brown said. “We had breakdowns in our pass defense, and we didn’t have enough pressure on those guys. We just didn’t play as physical or as relentless as we have the previous two weeks.”

Special teams accounted for two touchdowns for the Trojans, one on a blocked punt by Jabir Frye that was returned for a touchdown by Demetrius Cain, and a 100-yard kick off return by Frye.

“Special teams provided our edge, no question,” Brown said. “Special teams is something we take pride in here and is something that we have invested a lot of time on.”

Junior quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 23 of his 32 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans did not turn the ball over and at one point the Trojans scored on five straight possessions.

“This is the most complete game we have played so far. We played much cleaner and only had one offensive penalty,” Brown said. “This was the best tempo we have played.”

Twelve different receivers caught passes. Emmanuel Thompson led the way with eight catches with one touchdown, while Deondre Douglas led the way in yards with 101. The unsung hero of the group was sophomore Sidney Davis who finished with two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air.

“The other night Brandon made a phenomenal throw on a screen and go and he (Davis) finished it,” said Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield. “All he had to do was run it into the endzone on the other one. The quarterback did a real good job at getting him the football. When you do things right and work hard good things happen.”

For the first time since the end of the 2009 season, the Trojans received a vote in the coaches’ poll.

I think it says more about our league,” Brown said. “The league is getting better. We had a quality win over Southern Miss, a quality showing against Clemson. (Appalachian State has) had some good showings. South (Alabama), obviously with their win over Mississippi State. Our league’s getting more exposure, so I think that’s part of it.”

The Trojans will travel to Moscow, Idaho, to play the University of Idaho on Saturday. Kickoff is 4 p.m.