The Troy Trojans picked up a hard-fought win in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Saturday as they downed the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 34-27.
It was a redemption story for Troy quarterback Jarret Doege, who transferred in from Western Kentucky just before the season began. Doege threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after Trojans’ starting quarterback Gunnar Watson left with an injury.
Doege completed seven passes on eight attempts with two touchdown passes, plus 71 yards through the air. Watson completed 15 of 28 passes for 202 yards and an interception. Receiver Tez Johnson also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play.
Postgame, Doege seemed well aware of his accomplishment and didn’t hide his pride in it.
“I knew I was ready,” Doege told Troy media postgame. “I knew my teammates had faith in me and the coaches had faith in me. I had faith in myself. I put in the work. I pride myself on preparing to be the best player on the field. I just had a little feeling all week that this is going to be my time. I mean, you can’t write it any better. I just kept preparing and waiting for my opportunity and took advantage.”
Tyson Helton, Doege’s former coach, was complimentary of his ex-quarterback in his postgame media availability,
“Both quarterbacks [Watson & Doege] made big plays at clutch times...Obviously with [Doege] being here, I knew that he was very capable of making those plays and he made them. Hats off to him. It’s hard going in there as the backup late in the game and having to try and find a way to win, and he definitely found a way to win...It stings for us obviously, but happy for him that he was able to go in there and make some plays and make things happen.”
This was Troy’s first road win of the season and their first since October 16 of last season at Texas State. They now return home for two straight home dates with Southern Miss and Texas State, respectively.
Statistically, the game was pretty evenly matched. WKU had the edge in total yardage with 470 yards compared to Troy’s 415. WKU’s Austin Reed completed 39 of 56 passes for 406 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Reed noted this was just the second time in his college career that he remembers being asked to throw the ball more than 50 times. The first time was in the 2019 DII national championship game at West Florida.
“They were solid on defense,” Reed said of the visiting Trojans postgame. “Their front seven was probably the best front seven that we’ve seen all year...We could have done things a little bit better. I could have done things a little bit better. They played a really good game. At the end we had a chance to go win it and we didn’t do it.”
The two teams were also near identical in terms of time of possession and first down accumulation. A turnover on downs and a lost fumble, both in the fourth quarter, ultimately cost the Tops dearly in a one score game.
“Hats off to them. They beat us fair and square,” Tops’ head coach Tyson Helton said postgame. “I knew it would be a hard-fought game...When we needed to make some stops, we didn’t make them, and we needed to convert, we didn’t convert.”
Western Kentucky will now look to rebound with rematch of last year’s C-USA championship game with a trip to UTSA on October 8. Troy host Southern Miss that same day.