Jayden McDonald (10) and the swarming Trojan defense held Georgia Southern’s explosive running game to under 100 yards.

The Troy Trojans (3-3, 1-1) rebounded on Oct. 9 to pick up a big Sun Belt Conference win over the Georgia Southern Eagles (2-4, 1-2) at home by a score of 27-24 with a game-winning 24-yard field goal.

After Troy led for almost the entire game, including holding a 24-3 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles managed to tie the score 24-24 with just over six minutes remaining on a 38-yard field goal. After a Troy three-and-out, the Trojan defense got Troy the ball back with just over four minutes remaining when TJ Harris intercepted a Georgia Southern pass.

Gunnar Watson – who earned his first start of the season with Taylor Powell out with a knee injury – then led Troy down the field connecting with Opp native Orlando Lacey on a 31-yard pass inside the 10-yard line. Georgia transfer Brooks Buce then drilled a 24-yard field goal to give Troy the 27-24 lead with 1:46 left.

“When I went out there, I was trying to clear my mind of everything but one goal, which was to get the team a win and try to block out all the crowd noise and everything,” Buce said after the game.

The Troy defense responded again when Javon Solomon intercepted a tipped Georgia Southern pass to secure the win.

Midway through the third quarter, Troy held a commanding 24-3 lead after Buce booted a 29-yard field, Watson threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dothan native Jabre Barber, Jamontez Woods scored on a 34-yard run and Watson hit Reggie Todd for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

A number of Troy mistakes – including a turnover – allowed the Eagles to get back into the game. Georgia Southern cut the lead to 24-11 on a 1-yard touchdown run from Logan Wright and two-point conversion with 7:57 left in the third quarter and after a Troy fumble, Khaleb Hood scored on a 23-yard run to cut the lead further to 24-18 with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter.

Georgia Southern’s Alex Raynor booted a 42-yard field goal and 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to tie the score.

The Troy offense totaled 409 yards and held Georgia Southern’s mighty triple option rushing attack to just 89 yards.

Watson had a big day in his first start of the year, completing 24-of-36 pass attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns, while Woods rushed for a career-high 98 yards and a touchdown. Kiminal Vidal also earned 63 yards on 13 carries.

Todd hauled in four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, while Deshone Stoudemire earned two catches for 44 yards.

Carlton Martial and Harris led the Troy defense as Martial amassed nine tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss, while Harris totaled nine tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks and an interception.

Dell Petus also recorded seven tackles, while Jayden McDonald earned five tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack. Solomon – who has had a big season for the Trojans – recorded five tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one interception. Richard Jibunor also chipped in with three tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack.

Despite earning a career-high 157 yards rushing the previous week, Daleville native Jalen White was only given three carries total for Georgia Southern. He turned those three carries into 11 yards. Quarterback Justin Tomlin rushed for zero yards on 13 carries, while he completed 15-of-22 pass attempts for a career-high 210 yards and three interceptions.

Troy is back on the road this week for another crucial conference matchup against Texas State at 2 p.m.

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