Troy hits the road to take on Appalachian State

Published 7:00 pm Friday, November 27, 2020

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The Trojans ride to Boone, North Carolina having lost three out of their last four games. They begin the final stretch of the season on Saturday against Appalachian State.

The Trojans fell to Middle Tennessee last Saturday to even their record at 4-4. With four games remaining on their schedule, head coach Chip Lindsey believes his team still has a lot to play for.

“A lot of teams have two games left and then they’re done. We have four,” Lindsey said. “Which means there are four great opportunities out there for us. We sit here 4-4 with some opportunities to have probably win two or three more games. For whatever reason we couldn’t get it done. We look forward to getting back on the field on Saturday and putting our best foot forward.”

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The Trojans take on a Mountaineer team that is coming off a late loss last Saturday against Coastal Carolina. They come into the game 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The 7 p.m.. start time will be the second latest start for the Trojans this season. They took on BYU at 9:15 p.m. central time.

“Big challenge for us on the road,” Lindsey said. “Really good opponent, long road trip, late night game and all that goes along with it. We tried to embrace that. Bring on the next challenge. We’ll lock arms and do this together.”

After being injured in Troy’s loss to Georgia State, Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson made his return to the lineup in Saturday’s loss against Middle Tennessee State. Watson completed 25 of his 39 passes. He threw for 300 yards and had one touchdown to go along with two interceptions.

“I saw some good and some bad,” Lindsey said. “Obviously, he made two poor decisions, but I’m not telling you anything he wouldn’t tell you. We have to understand that Gunnar is still a young quarterback and is still developing, especially with missing three weeks in a row. When we get the ball down in the red zone, that’s twice now in two games we’ve turned the ball over in the red zone instead of just protecting it. Touchdowns and check downs is what we always talk about.”

On the season Watson has completed 68 percent of his passes. He has 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

This week, Watson will be going up a Mountaineer defense that ranks second in scoring defense, third in rushing defense and fourth in passing defense. They have held their opponents to 20 points or less in six of their eight games.

“They have six seniors on that side of the ball,” Lindsey said. “Very solid. You don’t see a whole lot of weaknesses. They tackle well and run to the ball. Their corner Shaun Jolly is a really good player. One of the better corners in our league. You see a group that plays extremely hard and tackles well in space.”

The Trojan defense comes into Saturday’s game in the middle of the pack in the conference defensively. They allow 24 points per game to along with 228 yards through the air.

Led by Zac Thomas, the Mountaineer offense is averaging 31 points per game this season, good enough for fourth most in the conference. Thomas is averaging 187 passing yards per game, 56 yards less than the Sun Belt leader Gunnar Watson. Thomas has 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“When I take a look at App State, what sticks out to me is that they’re a veteran team and it really shows. Four of their offensive linemen are seniors and then Zac Thomas is the guy that makes them go. He can make plays with his feet as well as throwing it. Does a great job of doing what they ask him to do. Marcus Williams and Camerun Peoples are both really solid players.”

The Trojans fell to the Mountaineers 48-13 inside Veterans Memorial Stadium last season. The Mountaineers have the advantage in the series, leading the Trojans 5-2. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and it can be seen on ESPNU.