Homecoming Dominance: Troy blisters Arkansas State

Published 7:29 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Troy Trojans celebrated Homecoming in style with a 37-3 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Saturday.

It was dominant performance from start to finish for the Trojans. Troy rattled off an eye-popping 587 yards of offense – with 351 yards on the ground – and held Arkansas State to just 203 total yards in the win. As dominant as Troy was, Head Coach Jon Sumrall still sees things that need to improve.

“I’m happy for our guys to get a complete win in a lot of areas but we still have a lot of things I think we can improve on,” Sumrall said. “I was frustrated with some stuff early in the game, finishing a drive or two. Just a lot of things we need to get better at.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Troy’s Kimani Vidal continued his stellar junior campaign by compiling 245 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, coming up just three yards shy of tying his own single-game rushing record, which he set earlier this season.

“Our goal isn’t to break records, it’s to go back-to-back (Sun Belt Champions) and win another bowl game,” Vidal emphasized after the game. “I love it and it’s important to me but it’s not (the most important) thing, it’s about the team.”

Sumrall pointed out that Vidal’s success on the field stems from his success as a person and leader.

“He’s a great player, a better person and a phenomenal worker,” Sumrall said. “He’s one of the best I’ve ever been around. He’s a really good football player who is somehow an even better person.

“He’s just a pro in every aspect of how he does things. He’s a great student in school, has great grades. Better people make better players, the poster child of that is Kimani. I’m so happy for his success.”

The Trojans wasted no time getting on the scoreboard early, capping off a 12-play, 75-yard opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Kimani Vidal. Vidal added a second 1-yard touchdown run later in the first half as Troy held a 14-0 lead with 12:11 left in the second quarter. Troy’s Scott Taylor Renfore also added a pair of field goals – including one as time expired – in the second quarter to give the Trojans a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Renfroe opened the third quarter with a career-long 39-yard field goal, which gave him 11 on the season, tying the school-record for most field goals in the first six games.

As the fourth quarter began, Gunnar Watson heaved a 64-yard touchdown pass to Chris Lewis and then Vidal added his third touchdown on a 69-yard run with 8:13 left in the game to stretch the lead to 37-0. Arkansas State finally got on the scoreboard with a 45-yard field goal with just 3:51 left before Troy ran the clock out.

Watson completed 12-of-21 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown, while Damien Taylor rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries and Deshon Stoudemire caught four passes for 98 yards.

The Troy defense was feisty all afternoon, holdings Arkansas State to 4-of-16 third downs and 1-of-4 on fourth downs.

“That was critical, 5-of-20 on third and fourth down opportunities is big,” Sumrall said. “You have to get stops and you don’t want to prolong drives. Defensively, on third down we look at that a lot. We didn’t start the year very good there but we’ve improved a lot. That’s something that is critical to having success.”

Vidal wasn’t the only Trojan to reach a milestone either as senior safety Dell Pettus surpassed 3,000 career snaps, making him one of just four active players in the entire country to do that. Pettus was also one of the Trojans to force a turnover on downs with a fourth down stop as he tallied five tackles on the day.

“I’m just grateful, honestly,” Pettus said of reaching 3,000 career snaps. “I’m grateful to God that I was healthy enough to make it to 3,000 snaps because there are a lot of guys that wish they could play football for that long and play that many snaps.

“I’m also grateful for the university and the staff and coaches and administration because they allowed me to be here and have been very good to me. This town and the fans and the citizens of Troy have also been good to me and I’m very appreciative of the whole situation.”

Keyshawn Swanson also tallied five tackles, while Javon Solmon earned five tackles, two tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. Richard Jibunor totaled five tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack.

Next Saturday, Troy starts a two-game road swing by heading to New York to face off against Army on Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m.