TROY, Ala. – Will Scott kicked a 42-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining to cap a 16-point second half comeback by Troy in a 38-37 win over FIU Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The 16-point deficit erased by the Trojans over the game’s final 23 minutes is the largest second half comeback by a Troy team since they rallied from down 17 in a 28-17 victory at Central Florida in 1995.
Troy (4-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) started the game-winning possession on its own 6-yard line. Deon Anthony’s arm, Shawn Southward’s legs and a pair of 15-yard FIU penalties set up the Trojans on the FIU 25-yard line for Scott’s game-winning kick.
Anthony opened the drive with an 8-yard pass to Chandler Worthy and followed with a 27-yard strike across the middle to Southward. Alate hit by the Panthers pushed the ball out to the FIU 44-yard line. A pass interference call against FIU on the next play gave the Trojans 15 more yards, but a sack and a spike to stop the clock pushed Troy back to the FIU 38-yard line facing a third-and-19.
Anthony stood in the pocket and threw a sideline pass to Southward who turned it into a 13-yard gain to put the Trojans back in field-goal range.
Anthony, who started in place of injured Corey Robinson, finished the game 29-of-41 for 245 yards and three touchdowns through the air while rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Anthony’s rushing total was the most by a Troy quarterback since Bob Godsey rushed for 122 yards against Tennessee-Martin in 1997.
Southward finished with 51 yards on 12 carries to move into seventh place on the all-time Troy rushing list with 2,405 career yards. The Trojans tallied 187 yards on the ground against the Panthers to give them 1,174 on the season in seven games; Troy rushed for 1,064 yards all of last season.
Eric Thomas caught two of Anthony’s three touchdown passes and finished with 60 yards on six catches. It was his fourth multi-touchdown game of his career and moved him into eighth place on the all-time Troy list with 14.
FIU (1-7, 0-4), who was the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt, had quarterback Jake Medlock back under center for the second straight week after he missed two-and-a-half games with a foot injury. Medlock led the Panthers to 21 first-quarter points and a 24-14 lead at the half.
Medlock finished 18-of-29 with 316 yards and three touchdowns on the night, but threw one interception. The interception by linebacker Brannon Bryan in the third quarter was Medlock’s first of the season and snapped an FIU school record of 203 consecutive passes without a pick.
The Trojans forced three turnovers in the game and have now tallied eight takeaways in the past three games after going the previous three games without forcing a turnover.
The Troy defense held FIU to just seven points (FIU returned a fumble for a score) and 181 yards of total offense in the second half after the Panthers scored 24 points and tallied 245 yards in the first half.
Justin Halley returned a Troy lateral 62-yards for a touchdown to give FIU a 37-21 lead with 7:57 to play in the third quarter. Anthony was trying to complete a screen pass to Worthy, but the officials ruled it went backwards and video replay was inconclusive to overturn the play.
Following a three-and-out by the Troy defense in the final minutes of the third quarter, Anthony capped a six-play, 59-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Thomas with 54 seconds to play in the quarter.
The Trojans held the Panthers on the ensuing possession and Shae Smith’s snap on the FIU punt attempt rolled to punter Josh Brisk who was not able to corral the ball before the Trojans stopped him for an 18-yard loss.
Anthony made the Panthers pay for the mistake with his legs as he rushed for a 13-yard touchdown after keeping the drive alive with an 18-yard rush on third-and-9.
Neither team could move the ball on their next two drives and Troy elected to punt facing a fourth-and-18 from its own 9-yard line with 2:16 to play in the game and two timeouts. The Troy defense responded with threestraight stops to give the ball back to the office with 68 seconds to play in the game.
Medlock put the Panthers on the board with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Glenn Coleman on their first drive of the game; it marked the first time this season that an opponent had scored on their opening drive of the game against the Trojans.
Anthony answered the score with his won 33-yard touchdown, this one on the ground, to knot the game at 7-all with 5:24 to play in the first quarter.
The Panthers took a 21-7 lead at the end of the opening quarter thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Darian Mallary and a 49-yard touchdown pass from Medlock to Willis Wright.
Troy responded with a 15-play, 75-yard drive on its ensuing possession to pull back within seven, 21-14. The Trojans converted three third downs on the series before Anthony threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chip Reeves on second-and-goal.
FIU responded with a 16-play drive that covered 73 yards and was capped by a 21-yard Jack Griffin field goal with 4:52 to play in the half.
Brannon’s interception came on the second play of the second half and turned into seven points for the Trojans as Anthony and Thomas connected from 17 yards out four plays later to close the gap to three, 24-21.
Medlock and the Panthers answered with a six-play drive that was kept alive by a 56-yard completion to Nick England on second-and-16. Onthird-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Medlock found Wayne Times in the back of the end zone for the score.
The Trojans marched right back down the field and had a third-and-1 on the FIU 34-yard line when Anthony’s lateral was returned for the touchdown.
The Trojans travel to Boca Raton, Fla., next Saturday for a Sun Belt Conference game at Florida Atlantic.