Highlight Reel: Big plays lead to blowout win for Troy

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, October 4, 2018

Troy took advantage of big plays in a 37-20 win over Georgia State on Thursday night in front of a national audience.

The win for the Trojans improves their record on the season to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.

“Gutsy win,” said head coach Neal Brown. “I’m proud of the guys; players and staff. On a short week, I was impressed with what they did. The collateral damage was high in this game. We had several guys go down. We always talk about the next man up attitude and I was impressed with that.

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“You play six in a row and six was on a short week. In the four years, we probably had more injuries in this game. The only one that was close was the Arkansas State game last year.”

Quarterback Kaleb Barker suffered what coach Brown called a lower-body injury in the first half and sat out the rest of the way.

“It’s a lower body injury,” Brown said. “I think we have as good of medical care as anybody in the country so we’ll have a good feel tomorrow.”

The Trojans had four plays that went for over 50 yards and five plays over 40 yards in the lopsided win.

“We have good players,” Brown said. “I think the offensive staff, outside of myself, has done a good job putting us in some schematic situations. Our offensive line has really dominated the front once we got into league play. I’m proud of those guys. When you have the ability to run the football and the quarterback is having an opportunity to pull the ball down and run, it spreads the defense out and you’re able to hit some vertical runs.”

Kaleb Barker took the opening play of scrimmage 75 yards to set the Trojans up inside the five-yard line. Two plays later, B.J. Smith plunged his way into the endzone for a one-yard touchdown and Troy took an early 7-0 lead.

Barker proved he could get it done with his arm during Troy’s next drive. On the seventh play of the drive and the ball at midfield, Barker connected with Tray Eafford on a 50-yard pass that floated right into the awaiting arms of the receiver.

The Trojans embarked on a 12-play drive on their next possession, ending with Deondre Douglas’ 14th career touchdown from 12 yard out to give Troy a 21-0 lead with 5:33 remaining in the second quarter.

Backup quarterback Sawyer Smith proved he could run as well when he called his own number and took it 63 yards before the Panthers hauled him down inside the five. The Trojans failed to punch it in however and the Panthers took over on their own one yard line.

Bandit Hunter Reese hauled down Panther quarterback Dan Ellington for Troy’s first safety since 2014 and Troy took a 23-0 lead.

The Panthers scored their first points of the game with a 32-yard field goal by Brandon Wright to Barker finished the game completing nine of his 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first Troy quarterback to rush for 100 yards since Deon Anthony did it in 2012. Barker finished with 111 yards.

The Trojans outgained the Panthers 357-123 in the opening half.

The Panthers inched a bit closer in the third quarter when Wright converted his second field goal of the game, this time from 28 yards out.

The Trojans led 23-6 heading into the fourth quarter despite totaling just 39 yards in the third.

Smith added some yardage on a 41-yard touchdown pass to Damion Willis. It was Smith’s third touchdown pass of the season. The Trojans increased their lead to 30-6 with 10:21 remaining in the game.

B.J. Smith took a handoff 78 yards for a score. It was Troy’s longest play of the season, beating Barker’s long run earlier in the game and The Trojans led 37-12 with 4:33 remaining.

The Panthers added a late score and a two-point conversion to pull within 17 at 37-20.

The Trojans finished the game with 337 rushing. It was the first time the Trojans rushed for over 300 yards since they rushed for 383 yards against Austin Peay.

Along with Barker’s 111 yards rushing, B.J. Smith totaled 140 and Sawyer Smith added 56. It marked the second straight week the Trojans had two rushers run for more than 100 yards. Before last week, the Trojans hadn’t accomplished that since 2002.

The Trojans will be back in action on October 13 when they travel to Virginia to take on Liberty.