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Troy Stays undefeated in conference play with a win over the Cajuns

Louisiana came to Troy with the most prolific offense in the Sun Belt but was held to only 270 yards and 16 points.  

Troy’s Damion Willis outruns a Louisiana defender for a 75-yard touchdown reception.
Photo courtesy of Troy Athletics

Sawyer Smith passed for 317 yards, B.J. Smith ran for 105 yards, and Damion Willis had 213 yards as the top receiver, but the real story was the Trojans’ defense.

Louisiana (4-5, 2-3) came to Troy (7-2, 5-0) with the most prolific offense in the Sun Belt and was held to a season low of just 270 total yards of offense. Their previous low of 280 yards was against No. 1 Alabama. Tron Folsom led the Trojans’ defense with 11 tackles. Tyler Knudsen, a former walk-on, started his first game in place of an injured Cedarius Rookard, and finished the game with seven tackles and a key interception. But his real highlight came after the game when Head Coach Neal Brown awarded him a full scholarship to add to the locker room celebration.

This game followed Troy’s pattern of jumping out to an early lead in the first half and then letting the defense stifle any chance of a comeback.

Troy’s first drive looked to be doomed when a high snap sailed over QB Smith’s head, and then a delay of game penalty made it second down and 35 yards to gain. But Smith’s first pass of the game to Damien Willis for 49 yards enabled Tyler Sumpter to kick his first (29 yards) of four field goals.

The Cajuns answered with a nice drive and a field goal (Kyle Pfau, 32 yards) of their own to tie the score at 3-3, but that was all they were allowed for the remainder of the first half.

Meanwhile the Trojans went on score two more touchdowns and two more field goals before heading into halftime.

Troy’s first touchdown came on another long pass to Willis for 75 yards.

The Cajuns had a chance for another field goal after recovering a Trojan fumble but missed from 39 yards. That was the last time in the first half that Louisiana threatened to score.

When Troy recovered a Louisiana fumble, they were able to take advantage of the short field and B.J. Smith scored on a 12-yard run.

Tyler Sumpter was called upon to kick two more field goals of 42 and 20 yards to give the Trojans a 23-3 lead at the break.

Troy was dominating the game. They already had 341 total yards of offense, and they had limited Louisiana to only 105.

The Cajuns started to take control back in the third quarter. They took the opening drive 55 yards, when their leading rusher, Trey Ragas, capped off the drive with a 3-yard run for a touchdown to narrow the score to 23-10.

Troy answered when Sumpter kicked his fourth field goal (49 yards), but Louisiana was winning the third quarter.

Louisiana scored again when they got the ball on another short run by Ragas to outscore Troy 13-3 in the quarter to make the score 26-16, but it wasn’t enough.

The fourth quarter was a defensive battle. Troy was trying to run the clock out, and Louisiana was desperate to score.

Tyler Knudsen intercepted one pass to stop a Louisiana drive and Melvin Tyus intercepted another to end the game.

Troy increased their conference record to 5-0 and sits alone atop the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference. Louisiana falls to 2-3 in conference play and is tied for second place in the West.

Troy still has two tough conference matchups with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State to seal up the East.

Louisiana could be playing ULM for the West title if they can get some help from either South Alabama or Arkansas State.