Trojans fall to Southern Miss in a shootout

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Troy Trojans and Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles traded touchdowns in the second half, but it was the Eagles that pulled away late in a 47-42 win on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The loss drops the Trojans to 1-1 on the season

“Tough night,” head coach Chip Lindsey said. “Really proud of the guys. I thought they played their guts out. We fought to the end.”

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The Trojans overcame an early 14-0 deficit and took the lead in the third quarter, only to see the Golden Eagles score 30 second half points.

The Trojans finished with plenty of offense, compiling 528 yards, but it fell short of Golden Eagles’ 636 yards.

“A lot of offense, which is a lot of fun if you’re a fan,” Lindsey said. “Their good players made plays and our good players made plays. We didn’t get enough stops on defense.”

With the Eagles leading 26-21 heading into the fourth quarter, both teams combined to score five fourth quarter touchdowns.

The Golden Eagles extended their lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Neil McLaurin connected with Jordan Mitchell on a 51-yard touchdown pass, bringing the score to 33-21.

Special teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Troy’s Reggie Todd took the next kickoff 69 yards for a touchdown. USM’s Jaylond Adams returned the favor on the next kickoff when he returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, pushing their lead back to 12 at 40-28.

“We covered really well (throughout the night) and then the guy brought it out of the end zone,” Lindsey said. “We have to tackle him. He is a really good player. We have to do a better job covering. You see how important it is in a tight game.”

Troy’s offense got back to work on their next possession. Barker found Khalil McClain in the corner of the endzone for an acrobatic 34-yard touchdown, bringing the Trojans back to within five at 40-35 with 8:53 remaining in the game.

The Eagles looked to finally put the Trojans away with a 64-yard touchdown catch by Quez Watkins, giving the Eagles a 47-35 lead with 7:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Golden Eagles had four offensive touchdowns of more than 25 yards and two that were over 50 yards on Saturday.

The Trojans wouldn’t go away, Barker found Khalil McClain for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:51 remaining to pull the Trojans back to within five.

The Eagles finally finished off the Trojans when they recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Troy lost running back B.J. Smith in the game due to an apparent leg injury.

“Don’t know for sure yet,” Lindsey said after the game. “It didn’t look good. Hopefully I’ll have something later in the week.”

The Trojans totaled nine yards in their first two possessions of the first half. In between the two drives, the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

After what looked like a Carlton Martial touchdown on a fumble recovery, Southern Miss regained possession after replay showed the runner was down. 16 plays later, Jack Abraham scampered in for a five-yard touchdown.

Jack Abraham broke his own Southern Miss record in the first half when he completed 16-straight passes. He eventually pushed it to 17 before throwing his first incompletion.

Down 14-0, Troy’s offense picked up their first first down of the game with under a minute remaining in the quarter. Later in the drive, Luke Whittemore hauled in back-to-back catches for 29 yards setting the Trojans up on their own 43-yard line. Fresh off a 100-yard game in the opener, Kaylon Geiger caught a Kaleb Barker pass and ran it in for a 57-yard score.

Troy had their longest scoring drive of the season to tie the score at 14. After starting at the three, the Trojans finished off a seven-play drive with a two-yard DK Billingsley touchdown run.

Trojans went into the half trailing by three after Andrew Stein made a 26-yard field goal.

Tray Eafford entered Saturday night’s game without a 100-yard game on his resume. He took care of that in Troy’s first possession of the second half. He caught two passes for a total off 55 yards including a 25-yard touchdown catch, putting the Trojans up 21-17 early in the third quarter. The 25-yard touchdown was his second shortest touchdown of his career.

After a failed 32-yard field goal by Troy’s Tyler Sumpter, The Golden Eagles passing game marched down the field in seven plays ending with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jaquez Dunmore. After a failed two-point conversion, Southern Miss led 26-21.

Barker broke the school passing yards record in the loss by throwing for 504 yards with four touchdowns.

The Trojans finished with four receivers over 100 yards for the first time in their FBS history. Eafford finished with seven catches for 110 yards, while Geiger had six catches for 118 yards.

The Trojans will be back in action next week when they travel to Ohio to take on Akron.