JMU snaps Troy’s home winning streak  

Published 9:54 pm Saturday, September 16, 2023

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For the first time in the Jon Sumrall Era, the Troy Trojans (1-2, 0-1) have tasted defeat at home, falling 16-14 to the James Madison Dukes (3-0, 1-0) on Saturday.  

With under three minutes left, the Trojans had the ball at their own 10-yard line. After three quick incompletions, the Trojans went for it on fourth down deep in their own territory and quarterback Gunnar Watson found receiver Chris Lewis for 16 yards and a first down. 

After completions to Jabre Barber and Landon Parker, Troy had a shot at a 50-yard field goal with less than 50 seconds left, but Watson was flagged for intentional grounding. Troy went for it again on fourth down but pressure on Watson forced an incompletion, giving JMU the conference win. 

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The loss broke Troy’s 8-game winning stream at home just one week after Kansas State snapped the Trojans’ 12-game overall winning streak.  

Things started out rough for the Trojans as Watson was intercepted on Troy’s first drive of the game. The Troy defense stood strong, however, and JMU settled for a 28-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. The Dukes extended their lead to 6-0 with 14:06 left in the second quarter.  

Troy’s offense finally got going on the next drive and Watson found Devonte Ross for a 14-yard touchdown with 11:16 left in the half to give Troy a 7-6 lead. That would be the last time Troy would lead in the game. 

James Madison quarterback Jordan McCloud threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Sarratt with 2:24 left in the half to retake the lead 13-7. The Dukes would take that lead into halftime. 

JMU added a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend the lead to 16-7. With 13:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, Watson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Barber to cut the lead to 16-14. With under five minutes left, Troy’s Scott Taylor Renfroe attempted a 48-yard fiedl goal to give the Trojans a lead but the ball sailed wide. Neither team would get back on the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.  

Last season, JMU and Troy were among the country’s leaders in both tackles-for-loss and sacks. Both defenses lived in the opposing backfield on Saturday, as well. JMU recorded 10 tackles-for-loss and five sacks, while the Troy defense earned nine tackles-for-loss and three sacks.  

Coming into the game, Troy was among the nation’s leaders in rushing but the JMU defense controlled the line-of-scrimmage and held Troy to –12 yards rushing. Watson, meanwhile, completed 25-of-46 passes for 332 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He completed at least one pass to seven different receivers and three receivers had six catches. 

Barber caught six passes for 80 yards and a score, while Ross caught six passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Deshon Stoudemire caught six passes for 52 yards and Lewis caught four passes for 93 yards. Kimani Vidal rushed for 27 yards on 11 carries. 

On the defensive side, Jayden McDonald led Troy with eight tackles and two tackles-for-loss, while Richard Jibunor earned six tackles, two tackles-for-loss and one sack. Javon Solomon added five tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack.  

Troy came into last week on a 12-game winning streak and comes out of this week on a two-game losing streak. The Trojans will look to snap that streak next week against Western Kentucky in another national televised game on ESPNU at 11 a.m.