Trojans make history with Dollar General Bowl victory

Published 11:17 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

Sawyer Smith threw four touchdown passes and senior Damion Willis had 103 receiving yards in Troy’s 42-32 win over the Buffalo Bulls in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile.

The win for the Trojans gives them their third bowl win in as many seasons and gives them double-digit wins for the third consecutive season. They have wrapped up 31 victories over the last three seasons.

“This was a great game for us,” said head coach Neal Brown. “This season for me has been all about perseverance and overcoming adversity. We had plenty adversary in this game. We had opportunities to really put this game away and we didn’t do it. Our guys kept fighting and fighting.”

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Sidney Davis finished off his Troy career with a 20-yard touchdown run to help clinch the Trojan win.

With the Trojans leading by just three points, Troy spear Hunter Reese recovered a Bulls fumble. One play later Davis landed the final blow to give the Trojans the win.

Quarterback Sawyer Smith tied a career with four touchdown passes and finished with 320 yards after completing 31 of his 44 passes.

“He played his best game. It wasn’t even close,” Brown said. “I can’t say enough about him. I love him and I think he is a great story. He got beat up throughout the year. He played tonight with a broken rib. That’s pretty tough if you ask me.”

The Bulls jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. Junior quarterback Tyree Jackson connected with Antonio Nunn on a 51-yard touchdown completion. Two plays later Jaret Patterson took a handoff 11 yards for the game’s first score.

The Trojans immediately responded on their next drive. Tray Eafford hauled in a 60-yard pass from Sawyer Smith to even the game up at 7. It was the longest touchdown in Troy’s bowl history.

The Trojans forced three first half turnovers. The first came on a Cedarius Rookard interception. Troy was able to get inside the Bull five yard line, but the drive stalled giving the Bulls possession deep into their own territory.

After another failed Troy possession set the Bulls up inside their own five, Jackson led the Bulls on a 14-play 96-yard touchdown drive finished off by a one-yard touchdown run by Kevin Marks.

Mobile native Carlton Martial caused two fumbles and recovered another in the opening half. The first strip which led to his recovery resulted in the game tying touchdown. Damion Willis caught a Smith pass for a seven-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.

The Bulls closed the first half with a 41-yard field goal by Adam Mitcheson to put the Bulls up 17-14.

The Trojans took the second half kick and took the opening possession 75 yards on 10 plays and BJ Smith put the Trojans on top with a two-yard touchdown run.

The Trojans successfully converted on a Bratcher Underwood onside kick and took the ball all the way down inside the Bull five-yard line.  B.J. Smith fumbled the ball and Tyrone Hill picked up the ball and ran it back for a 93-yard touchdown.

The Bulls offense did not get on the field the duration of the third quarter, but went into the fourth leading 24-21.

“What a crazy game,” Brown said. “Third quarter, we took some chances on special teams and they had a fumble that they returned for a touchdown. It wore on us, we had two guys that cramped up. Damion couldn’t finish the game.”

The Trojans capped off a 12-play drive early in the fourth quarter when Willis hauled in his 13th reception of the game for a two-yard touchdown to put the Trojans back out front at 28-24 with 14-13 remaining.

With 1:10 remaining and the Bulls looking to get back to within one possession, senior Blace brown blocked a Mitcheson field goal.

Smith connected on his second long pass of the game when he connected with Sidney Davis for a 45-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 11 at 35-24 with 11:25 remaining. It was the longest catch of Davis’ career.

The Bulls got their final touchdown of the game to briefly pull to within three with 7:24 remaining in the quarter.

Willis finished the game with 13 catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while Davis finished with four catches for 62 yards.

“Sidney, when you talk about him, one of the most humbled guys that we have in our program,” Brown said. “Probably one of the best teammates. He has made so many big plays in big games.

B.J. Smith finished the game as Troy’s leading rusher with 95 yards on 20 carries.