Troy gears up to celebrate Homecoming against Arkansas State

Published 12:30 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

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The Troy Trojans (3-2, 1-1) are back at home this Saturday, Oct. 7, for Homecoming as they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-2, 1-0) in a Sun Belt Conference clash.

Both the Trojans and Red Wolves come into the contest on winning streaks. Troy has won its past two games, while Arkansas State is on a three-game win streak. Troy dominated Georgia State a week ago and Arkansas State picked up a 52-28 win over UMass.

After losing to Oklahoma 73-0 in the season opener, Arkansas State dropped its next contest 37-3 to Memphis. Since that time, the Red Wolves have outscored their opponents 127-72.

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Coming into the contest, Arkansas State is averaging 26 points per game and 380.8 yards per game. The Arkansas State defense is giving up 36.4 points and 434 yards per game. Arkansas State quarterback Jaylen Raynor had a career night last week, throwing for 383 yards and six touchdowns in Arkansas State’s win over UMass.

The Trojans come into Homecoming averaging 26 points and 415 yards per game with 270 yards per game coming through the air, good enough for fourth in the conference. Meanwhile, the Trojan defense is giving up 23 points and 302 yards per game. The yardage ranks first in the conference, while Troy’s run defense ranks second in the Sun Belt. The defense is one of just four teams in the entire country to hold four opponents to 300 yards or less in a game this season.

“Our kids on defense take a lot of pride in their work,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said this week. “One thing that I love about the culture of our team is that those guys come in and watch extra tape and do every little thing they can to give us an advantage. They are students of the game.”

In the past two weeks, the Troy offense has also been thriving with 931 yards in the two contests combined. Junior tailback Kimani Vidal ranks second in the conference with 590 yards on the ground to go along with three touchdowns. Quarterback Gunnar Watson ranks third in passing with 3,303 yards and nine touchdowns.

Former Troy star – and Super Bowl winner – Steve McLendon will be on hand for Homecoming and will serve as Troy’s honorary team captain. McLendon, an Ozark native, played in the NFL from 2009 through 2021 and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While Troy will be celebrating Homecoming this week, the Trojans are coming to be celebrating former All-American Carlton Martial on Nov. 2 during the “Battle for the Belt” against South Alabama with Carlton Martial Day.

“Carlton Martial’s name is synonymous with Troy Football and he is beloved by all of Trojan Nation,” Troy Athletic Director Brent Jones said. “Nobody in the history of FBS Football has more tackles than Carlton and certainly nobody played the game with a bigger heart than Carlton.

“The ‘Battle for the Belt’ is one of the best rivalry games in college football and we couldn’t think of a better time to celebrate Carlton’s amazing career than during this game.”

Martial finished his Troy career last season as one of the most decorated players in school history, wrapping up his career with 578 tackles, which is the most in FBS football history. To honor Martial, the first 5,780 fans that come to the game will receive a commemorative Carlton Martial poster. Replica Carlton Martial jerseys will also be on hand for purchase. Additionally, Martial will lead his former Trojan teammates through Trojan Walk at 4:15 p.m. and will serve as honorary captain for the coin toss. Troy will also host a Meet-and-Greet with fans at 4:30 p.m. at Tailgate Terrance in which Martial will be signing autographs.