TROY, Ala. – Troy and Arkansas State combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense and the Red Wolves survived a controversial finish to escape Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday with a 41-34 victory over the Trojans.
With 40 seconds remaining in the game and Arkansas State needing to just kneel out the clock, Ryan Aplin fumbled the snap from center. Troy’s Kyle Lucas came out of the pile with the football and video showed that he had his arms around the ball at the beginning of the scrum. However, the officials ruled that Aplin had recovered the fumble.
Trailing by 11 early in the fourth quarter the Trojans needed a spark and safety Brynden Trawick delivered with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion pulled Troy within 34-31 with 10:23 to play in the game.
It was Troy’s first interception return for a touchdown since LaDarrius Madden intercepted Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson and took it in for the score in the second game last season. It was the longest interception return for a touchdown by a Trojan since Leodis McKelvin had a 71-yard return against Utah State in 2004.
The Red Wolves (8-3, 6-1 Sun Belt) rode the legs of David Oku on the ensuing possession as he carried the ball on six of the nine plays, including the final play for a 1-yard touchdown.
Corey Robinson threw back-to-back strikes of 24 and 35 yards to Chip Reeves and Eric Thomas, respectively, to put Troy in position on the Arkansas State 18-yard line. However, the Trojans (5-6, 3-4) stalled in the red zone and Will Scott booted his fourth field goal of the night to pull Troy within the final 41-34 margin.
Robinson was 26-of-35 on the night for 417 yards and a touchdown; it was Robinson’s second 400-yard passing game of the season and the third of his career.
Reeves moved into elite company in Troy history as he became the fifth player to top the 1,000-yard receiving plateau after he hauled in six passes for 142 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown that put Troy on the board. Reeves has 1,034 receiving yards this season and is just 135 yards shy of Rufus Cox’s single-season record of 1,169 in 1984. He has five catches of 50 yards or more this season and 13 of 30 yards or greater.
Eric Thomas also had a big night with four catches for 87 yards while Jaquon Robinson had four catches for 53 yards. The Trojans reached 500 yards of total offense for fifth time this season as they finished with 518 yards.
The game took an uneasy feeling on Arkansas State’s final possession of the first half when Troy’s De’Von Terry was flagged for a personal foul penalty when he broke up a third-down pass attempt from Aplin to J.D. McKissic. What would have been a 41-yard field goal attempt by Brian Davis, who missed an extra point and a 39-yard field goal earlier, turned into first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. Aplin threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Stockemer on the next play to give the Red Wolves a 20-17 halftime lead.
McKissic finished with 12 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown while Stockemer had six grabs for 117 yards and a score. Oku carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns and Aplin added 85 rushing yards on 12 carries.
The teams traded early scores to open the second half, but while Troy got a pair of Scott field goals, Arkansas State got two touchdowns to build its 11-point lead. On six trips inside the red zone, Troy kicked four fields, lost a fumble and scored one touchdown.
Controversy reared its head again before Oku’s 5-yard touchdown to put Arkansas State up 34-23. On first-and-goal from the 10, Aplin fired into the end zone for Darrion Griswold and Trawick delivered a ball-jarring hit. However, once again the officials called a personal foul penalty against the Trojans to give the Red Wolves another first down.
Scott’s four field goals push his total to 17 on the season which is the third most in a single-season in Troy history; he is just three shy of tying Sam Glusman’s mark of 20 in 2008. Scott has also made 12 straight field goal attempts, which is the most since Glusman hit 12 straight in 2008.
Troy will take its final stab at bowl eligibility next Saturday when it wraps up its regular season at Middle Tennessee in the “Battle of the Palladium”. The Trojans have won six straight against the Blue Raiders.
ASU – Jones 5-yard pass from Aplin (Davis kick failed), 11:50, 1st 0-6
TROY – Reeves 51-yard pass from Robinson (Scott kick), 6:13, 1st 7-6
ASU – McKissic 31-yard pass from Aplin (Davis kick), 3:10, 1st 7-13
TROY – Anthony 1-yard run (Scott kick), 10:28, 2nd 14-13
TROY – Scott 19-yard FG, 2:05, 2nd 17-13
ASU – Stockemer 9-yard pass from Aplin (Davis kick), 0:12, 2nd 17-20
TROY – Scott 18-yard FG, 9:39, 3rd 20-20
ASU – Oku 43-yard pass from Aplin (Davis kick), 9:11, 3rd 27-20
TROY – Scott 37-yard FG, 4:54, 3rd 27-23
ASU – Oku 5-yard run (Davis kick), 0:20, 3rd 34-23
TROY – Trawick 70-yard interception return (Albert pass from Anthony), 10:23, 4th 34-31
ASU – Oku 1-yard run (Davis kick), 4:49, 4th 41-31
TROY – Scott 29-yard FG, 3:31, 4th 41-34