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Troy upsets Nebraska 24-19 thanks to a tough Trojans defense

Nebraska ground out the yardage and controlled the ball for most of the game. But Troy made some critical stops, sometimes with a turnover, and Nebraska didn’t. 

Troy v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, the Troy Trojans (2-0) were paid a huge sum of money to travel to a Power Five football team to give them an easy win, but instead pulled off an upset of the heavily favored home team. Last year it was LSU. This time it was the Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-2), who fell to the mighty Trojans 24-19.

If you look at the overall statistics you would think that the Huskers won the game. They had the edge in almost every category listed. The difference was that Troy made the most of their opportunities and Nebraska didn’t.

Troy’s punter, Tyler Sumpter started Nebraska’s woes when his first punt went 79 yards to put the Huskers deep in their own territory. When Troy got the ball again, quarterback Kaleb Barker connected with Damion Willis for 39 yards to set up Sumpter with a 37-yard field goal to put Troy on the board first.

Troy v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Then the turnovers started. First Tyler Reese recovered a Nebraska fumble. Troy failed to take advantage when Barker was intercepted by Lamar Jackson on the Nebraska 7-yard line. Nebraska’s drive was halted six plays later when Tyler Murray intercepted a pass to give the ball back to Troy.

Neither team was moving the ball downfield, partly due to good defensive play, but largely due to turnovers.

Troy’s special teams scored again on a 58-yard punt return by Cedarius Rookard to put Troy ahead 10-0.

Nebraska finally put together a decent drive but missed a field goal.

Troy then drove 80 yards for their first offensive touchdown of the game. Sawyer Smith had come in as quarterback, and he executed a draw play perfectly for 57 yards to the Nebraska 20. B.J. Smith was handed the ball, and he scored easily from nine yards out to put Troy ahead, 17-0.

Nebraska finally got on the board with a nine-yard pass from Andrew Bunch to Stanley Morgan.

Troy was leading 17-7 at the half, but it looked like Nebraska had found their game and they got the ball first after the break.

Troy stopped Nebraska’s drive, but Rookard, (who previously ran a punt back for a TD) fumbled a punt on his own eight-yard line. Troy’s defense stiffened and the Huskers had to settle for a field goal. Nebraska was back in the game, only a touchdown away from tying the game.

Nebraska was winning the third quarter, but they could only score another field goal. The score was 17-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

This was the point in the game when Nebraska’s size and depth were expected to give the Huskers the advantage. Instead, both defenses looked tired.

Troy marched down the field to the Nebraska 26, then B.J. Smith broke through the Huskers’ defense for his second TD to put Troy ahead by eleven points, 24-13.

But Nebraska wasn’t finished. They used eleven plays to go 75 yards and capped off the drive with a seven-yard TD pass to J.D. Spielman to pull within five points at 24-19. They tried a two-point conversion but the attempt failed.

With 2:55 left in the game, it looked like Nebraska had a good chance of winning the game if they could get the ball again, especially when Sumpter’s 57-yard punt was called back for an illegal formation penalty.

Nebraska had the ball again on their own 28-yard line with plenty of time (2:26) left to score another touchdown to win the game. Instead Will Sunderland intercepted a pass at the Nebraska 38. Troy made the required first down and then Barker took a knee to seal the upset.