Troy hangs on to beat Army

Published 7:23 pm Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Troy Trojans (8-2) took their first lead of the game against the Army Black Knights (3-6) in the fourth quarter but that’s all they needed to hang on to a 10-9 win at home on Saturday.

It was an electric night for the Trojans, who set an attendance record of more than 31,000 at Veterans Memorial Stadium. There were numerous special ceremonies during the game – in honor of Veterans Day – including a military flyover before the game and halftime fireworks display. Senior linebacker Carlton Martial made his mark, as well, earning a career-high 22 tackles and setting the FBS career tackle record in the process.

“He’s an unbelievable young man. I’m so incredibly proud of him,” Troy coach Jon Sumrall said. “He’s had enough people his whole life tell him, ‘You’re not this’ or ‘You’re not that,’ but what he is a tackling machine that plays the game the right way.

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“He is a phenomenal teammate and I think he would tell you he doesn’t really care about the record. He came back to win a bowl game and win a conference championship, things like that.”

When asked what the record meant to him, Martial said that it hadn’t sunk in just yet but heaped praise on his teammates and coaches, in the process.

“It’s crazy to think about, but it hasn’t really soaked in yet,” Martial said. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m proud of my team. I didn’t come back to break this record. I came back for my teammates. Honestly, it’s really a team effort. We were 11 guys on the same page.”

While Martial didn’t want to take any credit or talk about the record too much, he received a special message from Troy Hall of Famer and former NFL star DeMarcus Ware following his postgame press conference.

Carlton Martial (2) makes the tackle that set the NCAA record for tackles in a career. (Photo courtesy of Troy University Athletics)

“I just want to congratulate you for breaking the all-time NCAA tackles record,” Ware said in a recorded video. “That requires consistency, discipline but also tenacity to go out there and get it and you are that player and you brought it back to Troy. We own that thing now. Keep doing what you do and best of luck in the future.”

Martial beamed after the message and seemed speechless.

“That’s crazy to me,” he said with a huge smile. “When I saw the video it instantly sent chills up my back. That’s crazy to think about and I appreciate him for that. I want to keep on going and keep doing it for Troy.”

The Trojans struggled from the start of the game and Army dominated the first half. Army rolled up 232 yards in the first half and led 9-0 at halftime, while Troy could muster just 47 yards of total offense. Troy outgained Army 224-125 and outscored the Black Knights 10-0 in the second half, however. Troy came into the fourth quarter with -4 yards rushing but tallied 76 yards on the ground in the final period.

“I’m really proud of our guys, we found a way to win,” Sumrall said. “I do not like the way we started the game, I would have been a whole lot more pleased if we could start faster.

“That has been an issue the last of couple of games, clearly, but I’m also not going to apologize for winning a game.”

Troy’s preparation for Army’s unique “triple option” offense was hampered during the week when the flu spread through members of the defense, but in the second half the Trojans were able to get some stops and force a pair of turnovers to help seal the win.

Kimani Vidal (28) led the Trojan ground game against Army. (Photo by Henry Otto)

Brooks Buce hit a 21-yard field goal with 10:06 left in the third quarter to cut the Army lead to 9-3 and Gunnar Watson tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass – on fourth down – to Tez Johnson with 8:04 left in the game to give Troy it’s first – and the only one needed – lead of the night.

Army did manage to drive deep into Troy territory with under 30 seconds remaining but a 42-yard field goal sailed wide right and the Trojans held on for the win.

Watson completed 15-of-31 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Kimani Vidal rushed for 72 yards on 13 caries and Johnson caught six passes for 75 yards and a score.

Martial had a career-high 22 tackles along with Craig Slocum Jr. earning a career-high 17 tackles. Will Choloh added 10 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and a sack, while TJ Jackson had eight tackles, one tackle-for-loss and 0.5 sack. Dell Pettus and Buddha Jones both recorded fumbles.

Troy is back at home next Saturday for another conference matchup against ULM at 2:30 p.m.