Second half woes hurt Trojans in loss to Louisiana

Published 8:12 pm Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Trojans fell to No. 24 Louisiana 35-21 on Saturday evening at Veterans Memorial Stadium, bringing the homecoming festivities to an end.

The Trojans held an early 10-7 lead over Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns then outscored the Trojans 28-11 the rest of the way to claim their ninth win of the season. The win for the Cajuns clinches home field advantage in the upcoming Sun Belt Championship. The Trojans fall to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

“We didn’t play good enough to win,” head coach Chip Lindsey said. “When you don’t play good enough to beat a top-25 team, you’re not going to do it.”

After putting up 204 first half yards, the Trojan offense finished the third quarter with 63 yards and the half with 187 yards.

“Disappointing the way we came out in the third quarter,” Lindsey said. “We have to get our players to play better coming out of the half. It’s not really about the x’s and the o’s. I don’t know I can’t describe it. I thought offensively and defensively we didn’t attack the third quarter.  We have to fix that. I was disappointed because when I was in the locker room at halftime our guys were dialed in.

“I have to do a better job of finding out how to get them ready heading out for the third quarter. These are 18 to 22-year-old guys who are somewhat emotional at times and can’t see the big picture. That’s my job to make sure they do.”

The Trojans turned the ball over three times, including two fumbles.

“We didn’t play clean enough,” Lindsey said. “Turnovers hurt us. I think the interception was a bad luck deal. He back hipped him with the throw and the ball got tipped up.”

The Troy offense finished with 41 rushing yards, led by Kimani Vidal’s 21.

“The key of the game was our inability to run the football,” Lindsey said. “We ran the ball 25 times for 41 yards, that’s not what we wanted to do.”

The Trojans’ opening possession spanned 75 yards and lasted eight plays. They ended the game’s first possession with a Gunnar Watson touchdown run of 10 yards. It was Gunnar’s first touchdown run of his career.

Trailing 7-0, Louisiana wasted little time in answering Troy’s scoring drive. Quarterback Levi Lewis ended a nine play, 79-yard drive with a 15-yard pass to Dontae Lewis.

The Trojans scored on their first two drives for the third time this season with Brook Bruce converted a 30-yard field goal, putting the Trojans up 10-7 with 2:12 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Cajuns had the ball near midfield on their next possession. Trojan Bandit Richard Jibunor looked to have brought down Lewis for a sack, instead the quarterback slipped away and found a wide-open Michael Jefferson for a 52-yard score and Louisiana led 14-10 late in the first quarter.

There was only one score in the second quarter. On the Louisiana 30, the Trojans elected to bring out Bruce for a career long 47-yard field goal. The junior’s kick sailed through the uprights, bringing the Trojans to within one at 14-13, a score that lasted until halftime.

Louisiana took the opening possession of the second half. Lewis found a couple of wide open receivers and had completions of 19 and 40 yards. Lewis found Kyren Lacy for a 13-yard touchdown and Louisiana extended their lead to eight at 21-13 early in the second half.

The Trojan offense answered with a three-and-out after losing eight yards on a run and a sack.

Louisiana made it back-to-back scoring possessions to open the second half. Facing a fourth and 10 from the Troy 28, Lewis not only picked up the necessary 10 yards on the ground, but he ran his way for a 28-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 28-13 with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.

The Trojans had negative nine yards in their first two possessions of the second half. On their third possession, the Trojans traveled 82 yards ending with a touchdown completion by Tez Johnson. Deshon Stoudemire hauled in a two-point conversion and Troy cut their deficit to seven early in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans had possession on their own 44-yard line. A Gunnar Watson pass was thrown behind running back Jamontez Woods. Woods deflected the football into the waiting arms of Ferrod Gardner for an interception.

Eight plays later Montrell Johnson refused to be tackled and rumbled his way in for a six-yard rushing touchdown, putting Louisiana up 35-21 with 5:15 remaining.

After a hot start to his game, Watson finished 29-of-55 for 350 yards to go along with his one rushing touchdown.

Tez Johnson finished with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

The Trojans will be back at home next Saturday when they host Appalachian State beginning at 2:30 p.m.