Trojans hold on to defeat Warhawks 35-27

Published 8:18 am Sunday, September 23, 2018

MONROE, La. – Troy raced out to a 28-point halftime lead and held off a furious ULM rally to defeat the Warhawks, 35-27, in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Malone Stadium.

The win was Troy’s (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) seventh straight on the road and first at ULM since 2001 to snap a four-game road skid to the Warhawks (2-2, 0-1). The Trojans’ road winning streak is the third-longest active mark in the country, while Troy’s six-game conference winning streak is the fifth-longest nationally.

It took more than 59 minutes for either team to turn the ball over, but the only miscue of the game was the deciding factor as Marcus Jones picked off Caleb Evans in the end zone with 39 seconds remaining to thwart the ULM rally.

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“The clock was our friend tonight without a doubt,” said 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. Our goal when we got on that bus (in Troy) was to come here and be 1-0, be 1-0 in the league and we accomplished that. I don’t want to lose that in what happened in the second half.”

The Trojans could do no wrong in the first half as they scored on five straight possessions after the Warhawks struck on their opening drive of the game.

Junior quarterback Kaleb Barker accounted for four touchdowns as he threw scoring strikes to Damion Willis and Sidney Davis in the second quarter and also scored twice on the ground – he became the first Troy quarterback since Brandon Silvers in 2015 to score multiple rushing touchdowns in a game.

Barker and sophomore Sawyer Smith connected on 18 consecutive passes at one point in the game and the pair were a combined 20-of-21 for 272 yards and three touchdowns at the half. Barker finished 23-of-28 for 273 yards and the two scores through the air while rushing for 50 yards on 15 carries.

Sidney Davis led the Trojans with a career-best six catches and 78 yards, while Deondre Douglas added five catches for 67 yards and Willis finished with five catches for 66 yards.

In the second half, it was the Warhawks who could do no wrong. ULM scored midway through the third quarter and again just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter to cut the lead down to 14 points, 35-14.

ULM outgained Troy 376-101 in the second half and the Warhawks totaled 19 first downs to the Trojans’ four. Evans threw his second touchdown pass of the game with just over six minutes to pull ULM within one score, 35-27, after the failed PAT.

After Troy missed a 46-yard field goal with 2:24 remaining, Evans led ULM down to the Troy 11-yard line with less than a minute to play. On the ensuing play, Jones intercepted Evans in the end zone to seal the victory for Troy

Evans completed 29-of-48 attempts for 290 yards while rushing for 101 yards on 15 attempts. The Trojan defense neutralized ULM’s All-America receiver and kicker returner Marcus Green as he had just two catches for 29 yards, one kickoff return for 15 yards and one punt return for -1 yards.