Trojans snap losing streak with win over WKU

Published 2:36 pm Saturday, September 23, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Troy Trojans (2-2) got back to their winning ways on Saturday with a 27-24 win over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-2) at home.

The win snaps Troy’s two-game losing streak in a game that was the earliest start time for a Trojan home game since 2002.

After the Troy defense got an early stop, the Trojan offense drove deep into WKU territory before fumbling and giving the Hilltoppers good field position. Western Kentucky then cashed in on a 10-yard scoring run from KD Hutchinson with 1:35 left in the first quarter. The Hilltoppers kept that lead going into the second quarter.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Troy got on the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal from Troy native Scott Taylor Renfroe with 6:09 left in the half. Neither team seemed to get much going offensively after that until Troy got the ball back with under 40 seconds left in the half.

Troy drove into WKU territory and as time expired, Gunnar Watson heaved a 40-yard touchdown to a leaping Chris Lewis on a “Hail Mary” to give Troy its first lead of the game 10-7 at halftime.

Troy got off to a hot start in the second half and Kimani Vidal cashed in his first score of the year on a 19-yard run to extend the Trojan lead to 17-7 with 11:37 left in the third quarter. Western Kentucky answered right back when Austin Reed threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Corley to cut he lead to 17-14 with 7:54 left in the third quarter.

Renfroe answered with a 26-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-14 going into the fourth quarter. WKU booted a 24-yard goal of its own with 14:07 left in the game to cut Troy’s lead to 20-17.

Troy then marched on a 10-play, 89-yard drive that Vidal capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run to extend the Trojan lead to 27-17. Of the 10 plays, Troy ran the ball seven times on the drive.

The Troy defense forced a turnover on downs deep in WKU territory on the next drive and seemed poised to run the clock out. Vidal broke a long run down to the Hilltopper goal line but fumbled into the end-zone giving Western Kentucky new life.

WKU then marched down the field on a 5-play, 80-yard drive in less than two minutes and capped it off with a 12-yard touchdown pass to cut the Troy lead to 27-24 with 2:29 left. Facing a third-and-seven deep in Troy territory, Watson dumped a pass off to Vidal behind a WKU blitz and Vidal slipped away from a tackle and picked up 28 yards into WKU territory. Then, Watson fooled the defense with a read option and picked up nine yards followed by a first down pickup from Vidal to seal the win.

The Troy offense was as efficient as it’s been all season despite still having a few mistakes. The Troy offensive line gave up five sacks on the day and Troy also turned the ball over three times. Troy rolled up 521 total yards with 172 yards on the ground and 349 yards through the air. The Troy defense also held WKU’s high-powered offense to just 288 total yards and 20 rushing yards.

“We’re resilient,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said after the game. “We lost a heartbreaker last week and our kids had their backs against the wall a little but we’re tough. I don’t know if we’re any good or not but we’re tough.”

Vidal led the Trojans with 156 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries along with four catches for 58 yards. Watson completed 22-of-35 passes for 349 yards and one touchdown. Deshon Stoudemire caught six passes for 99 yards, while Lewis caught three passes for 101 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s a dude,” Sumrall said of Vidal. “The reason he’s such a great player is he’s an even better person. He’s a fantastic person that does everything the right way and I’m so proud of that guy.”

Jordan Stringer led the Troy defense with seven tackles. Javon Solomon earned a sack and both Keyshawn Swanson and Blake Matthews earned fumble recoveries.

Troy will look to start a new winning streak next week on the road at Georgia State.