‘NOTCH IN THE BELT’: Trojans defeat South Alabama at home to hold onto rivalry title

Published 11:25 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Troy became the first home team since 2014 to win the ‘Battle for the Belt’ Trophy on Wednesday night when they knocked off South Alabama 37-13.

The Trojans outscored the Jaguars 21-3 in the second half on their way to their first conference win of the season.

The Trojans moved to 3-3 on the season. They now lead the all-time series with the Jaguars 5-3.

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“It was good to keep the belt in Troy,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said. “I am really proud of the team tonight. I thought it was a total team effort.”

The Trojan defense entered the game allowing 32 points per game and over 500 yards in two games. On Wednesday, they held their opponent to 13 points and 274 yards.

“I’m extremely proud of the defense,” Lindsey said. “I think that was the key in the game. The defense is getting better each week. Tonight, we made some plays and we got some turnovers. Brandon (Hall) and his staff did an unbelievable job.”

The first half was a half of miscues and field goals between the Trojans and the Jaguars. The Trojans took the opening possession of the game and held it for 12 plays. The drive stalled and the Trojans had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Tyler Sumpter.

It was the first of three Sumpter field goals in the first half.

The Jaguars had a lengthy drive of their own to start their night. They drove it all the way down inside the one yard-line. The Trojan defense held the Jaguars out of the end zone on three consecutive plays from the one yard-line. The drive ended with a 17-yard field goal by Frankie Onate.

The Trojans drove the ball to the Jaguars one yard-line on their next possession. They were able to capitalize on their opportunity when Barker found Kaylon Geiger for a one-yard touchdown, putting the Trojans up 10-3 with 14:17 remaining in the half.

The Jaguars looked to inch closer with a 51-yard field on their next possession, but a roughing the kicker penalty was called on Troy’s Travis Sailo, giving the Jaguars new life. For the second consecutive possession, the Jaguars were held out of the end zone after Troy stopped South Alabama on a fourth-and-goal play inside the five.

Barker committed turnovers on back-to-back possessions in the first half. The first occurred on Troy’s next possession when he fumbled the ball back to the Jaguars on the three yard-line. The Jaguars capitalized on this opportunity and scored on a Kawaan Barker three-yard touchdown run.

Sumpter made field goals from 22 and 29 yards out to send the Trojans into halftime leading 16-10.

Geiger caught his second touchdown of the game early in the second half. Barker connected with Geiger on a 15-yard pass, putting the Trojans up 23-10 with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter.

The Jaguars had a golden opportunity to bring the game back to a one-possession game. Quarterback Cephus Jones threw to a wide-open Jalen Wayne, but the ball flew through the waiting arms of the receiver. Onate then missed the 45-yard field goal.

The Jaguars closed out the third quarter with Onate’s second field goal of the game, this time from 31 yards out and the Trojans went into the fourth holding a 23-13 lead.

Sumpter had an opportunity to tie his own record with his fourth field goal of the game early in the fourth quarter, but he missed wide left.

Will Sunderland picked off Jones on the first play of the next drive and he returned it for a 29-yard touchdown putting the Trojans up 30-13. It was Troy’s 95th turnover in the last four years, most in the country.

Trevon Woolfolk found the end zone for the first time late in the fourth quarter on a four-yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 37-13.

Barker finished the game completing 20 of his 30 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. DK Billingsley broke the century mark for the third time in his career when he rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries.

Troy’s 24-point win was their largest margin of victory in the rivalry’s history.

The Trojans will be back in action a week from Saturday when they travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia State.