South Alabama leaned on senior running back Kendall Houston's career-performance and a strong running game in the second half to claim their first win over in-state conference rival Troy, 27-13.
After opening with 10 points in the first quarter, Troy finally got on the board with a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Jaguar defense turned away a scoring opportunity late in the first half when Brandon Silvers had to tuck the ball and run to gain a yard to the USA 21, but without a time out it allowed the clock to expire and a scoring opportunity to escape the Trojans.
South Alabama opened the second half backpedaling with a holding penalty and Brandon Bridge scrambling out of bounds. Then the Trojans got a huge break with a blocked punt to set them up at the Jaguar 23 yard line. But the South Alabama defense held strong and only allowed the Trojans a 38-yard field goal.
The rest of the third quarter might as well be called the offensive line show as they along with Kendall Houston and Xavier Johnson put on a clinic of how to dominate the line of scrimmage, open big running lanes, and run the ball. Houston gashed the Trojan defense for 14 and 13 yards on back-to-back runs. Then Johnson came in for two carries, the second going for 14 yards and his first touchdown of his career.
After forcing a three-and-out, the offense picked up right where it left off. Houston gashing for big yardage, followed by Terrance Timmons doing the same thing. But Houston would just finish it off the drive with a 41 yard touchdown run with 5:09 left in the quarter to firmly put the dagger into Troy's heart for this game.
The running game would continue to be the bread-and-butter of the Jaguar offense in the fourth quarter. Even converting a 3rd and 10 with everyone in the stadium knowing that South Alabama was not going to put the ball in the air.
Dontreal Pruitt would relieve Silvers and lead the Trojans to a touchdown with 1:00 left in the game, too little too late by then.
Houston would finish the game with 178 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown with 9.9 yards per carry average. Redshirt freshman Xavier Johnson added 107 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown and an average of 7.1 yards per carry.
Bridge did not have a spectacular night throwing the ball, nor did they really need him either. He went 9-of-21 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Shavarez Smith was the leading receiver with 65 yards on two catches with the only receiving touchdown of the game. For the second consecutive game Jereme Jones went without a reception after setting a school record with 49 consecutive games with a catch.
Jordan Chunn led the Trojans on the ground with 53 yards on eight carries. Brandon Burks added 50 more yards as the Trojans gained 164 yards on the ground. Pruitt and Silvers combined to go 13-of-24 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Teddy Ruben was the bright spot in the Trojan receiving corps with 65 yards on three catches. Bryan Holmes had 57 yards on three catches prior to leaving the game with an injury.
In all, the game was never as close as the final score indicates. The Trojans were flagged 10 times for an even 100 yards while South Alabama had eight flags for 78 yards
The Trojans fall to 1-7, 1-3 on the 'Larry Blakeney Retirement Tour'.
South Alabama improves to 5-2, 4-1 in the Sun Belt, with the win.
- Since head coach Joey Jones started growing out a goatee, his team is 4-0. They may need that extra help in November as they play @ Lafayette, @ Arkansas State, Texas State, @ South Carolina and finish the season with Navy.
- Xavier Johnson wore #8 in honor of Jay Jones who's season and collegiate career ended last weekend with a torn ACL.
- Theo Rich picked up another sack, his team-leading seventh sack of the season.