Dec 23, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Grayson Loftis (12) hands the ball off to Duke Blue Devils running back Jaquez Moore (9) during the first half against the Troy Trojans at Protective Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Defense carries Duke past Troy in Birmingham Bowl

Todd Pelino kicked three field goals and Duke relied mostly on defense to defeat Troy 17-10 in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., where interim coaches guided both teams.

Troy didn’t score until the second half but made a game of it until a late interception doomed the Trojans’ final chance.

Pelino had second-quarter field goals from 34 and 37 yards, including the latter on the last play of the first half. Combined with Jaylen Coleman’s 1-yard run late in the first quarter and Nicky Dalmolin’s two-point conversion run, the Blue Devils carried a 14-0 lead to halftime.

Quarterback Grayson Loftis finished the game 19-for-29 for 183 yards with an interception for the Blue Devils.

Duke (8-5) received 73 rushing yards from running back Jaquez Moore and 66 yards from running back Jordan Waters.

Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson completed 21 of 36 passes for 230 yards, and running back Kimani Vidal gained 79 yards on 17 carries. The Trojans (11-3), the Sun Belt Conference champions, had a 10-game winning streak end.

Both teams saw their previous coaches depart for other jobs after the regular season. Mike Elko left Duke to go to Texas A&M, while Jon Sumrall departed Troy for the Tulane position.

Trooper Taylor, the running backs coach, was in charge for Duke. Defensive coordinator Greg Gasparato oversaw Troy.

Troy finally got on the board on Scott Taylor Renfroe’s 44-yard field goal with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter. That capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive.

After Pelino’s 45-yarder with 13:29 remaining, the Blue Devils made a fourth-down stop that seemed critical at the time.

But Damaje Yancey’s interception gave the Trojans the ball back. They got going and moved 87 yards in 10 plays to score on Derrick Graham’s 2-yard run with 5:54 left.

Troy forced a Duke punt and started their last possession at its own 11-yard line with 1:40 left. Two plays later, Jeremiah Lewis intercepted Watson as Duke sealed the outcome to push its bowl winning streak to five games.

–Field Level Media

Kansas State senior quarterback Will Howard (18) runs in for a touchdown in the third quarter of Saturday's game against Troy inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Will Howard, No. 15 Kansas State cruise past Troy

Will Howard had an impressive day with three touchdown passes and two touchdown runs as No. 15 Kansas State defeated Troy 42-13 Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Howard finished 21-for-32 passing for 250 yards and one interception.

The defense showed up for the Wildcats (2-0), holding Troy to just 286 yards of total offense, one week after the Trojans amassed 540 yards and 48 points.

Gunnar Watson completed 17 of 32 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Trojans (1-1).

A largely lethargic third quarter by both offenses saw K-State score the only points of the quarter on a 2-yard run by Howard. Troy gained just 49 yards in the third quarter, while K-State gained just one outside of a 44-yard drive capped by Howard’s run.

Scott Taylor Renfroe’s 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter cut into the K-State lead.

K-State erased any drama with a nine-play, 76-yard drive that made the score 35-13 with 8:48 left. Howard threw a shovel pass to Treshaun Ward, who scampered in from the 1-yard line. Howard’s second rushing touchdown gave the Wildcats a 42-13 lead with just 2:50 left.

K-State won the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in eight plays for the opening touchdown, a 9-yard completion from Howard to Jadon Jackson.

After Troy failed on fourth-and-1 on the K-State 42, the Wildcats went 56 yards in 12 plays for a 14-0 lead. Phillip Brooks ran the final 2 yards on a jet sweep. Howard hit Jackson for a 24-yard gain on third-and-15 on the drive.

Troy got on the board with 3:46 left in the first half on a Renfroe 24-yard field goal as a 14-play drive stalled at the K-State 7-yard line. The Trojans’ next drive resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Chris Lewis, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone. The Trojans were within 14-10 with 52 seconds left on the clock.

But Howard found Brooks on a crossing pattern and Brooks tiptoed up the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left, putting a damper on the Troy momentum.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Troy Trojans head coach Jon Sumrall on the sidelines against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Troy coach Jon Sumrall lands 4-year extension

Troy football coach Jon Sumrall has agreed to a new four-year contract, ESPN reported Friday.

The deal includes a pay raise, an increased pool for staff salaries and “additional program investments for players,” according to the report.

Sumrall, 40, guided the Trojans to a 12-2 record (7-1 Sun Belt) and a Cure Bowl victory against UTSA in his first year with the program in 2022.

Troy broke the previous school record for wins (11-2) set in 2017 and won its first bowl game since 2018.

Sumrall was an assistant coach at his alma mater Kentucky (2019-21), Ole Miss (2018), Troy (2015-17), Tulane (2012-14) and San Diego (2007-11) before taking over the program in Troy, Ala.

The Trojans open the 2023 season at home Sept. 2 against Stephen F. Austin.

–Field Level Media

Oct 20, 2021; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers linebacker Nick Hampton (31) catches Coastal Carolina Chanticleers quarterback Grayson McCall (10) and sacks him during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 Coastal Carolina looks to get back on track vs. Troy

If No. 24 Coastal Carolina needed something to get its attention, its first loss of the season did the trick.

Next comes a home game Thursday night against Troy, which will be trying to pull off an upset on its visit to Conway, S.C.

Coastal Carolina (6-1, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) is no longer unbeaten — a final-play field goal by Appalachian State dealt the Chanticleers a 30-27 loss last week — but there’s still plenty for the Chanticleers to accomplish.

“We’ve made a lot of strides over the last six weeks,” Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Our program is making huge strides to where when we get our foundation right, we have a chance to be in a real special place. What we need is to hopefully start putting that thing in place.”

They have lost control their own destiny in the conference’s East Division, but if they win out and Appalachian State loses another game, Coastal can still reach the league’s championship tilt.

With Troy (4-3, 2-1) showing up this week, the Chanticleers will need to refocus quickly, as the teams have played close games in recent years.

Coastal Carolina prevailed 42-38 last year at Troy after a 36-35 home win in 2019.

“A good opportunity for us,” Troy coach Chip Lindsey said. “The last couple of years that game has kind of come down to the wire.”

Troy has won consecutive games by a combined six points, with three-point wins against Georgia Southern and Texas State.

“We understand the road gets tougher as the season plays out,” Lindsey said.

The Chanticleers probably realize that as well. They had won 11 consecutive Sun Belt Conference games until the showdown with Appalachian State.

Coastal Carolina was held to a season-low 346 yards of total offense while allowing a season-high 575 yards. Despite the outcome, there were encouraging components that Chadwell said bode well overall for the team.

“We played for each other,” he said. “We stayed involved in the game all four quarters. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”

Troy racked up a season-best 205 rushing yards in its most-recent game, which came Oct. 16 at Texas State. That might be a good formula for this week.

“We made a concerted effort to run it,” Lindsey said. “I think when you can do that on the road and you’ve got a good defense, you’re going to have a chance to win some games.”

The Trojans are 2-2 in road games.

For the season, Troy has scored on its first possession of a half in 10 of 14 such situations this season. The Trojans could use some big-play moments against Coastal Carolina.

“We’ve got to find some explosive plays,” Lindsey said.

Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall has often sparked big-yardage plays, but against Appalachian State he was under extreme pressure, so shoring up the protection rates among the priorities.

That’s perhaps particularly relevant against Troy. Richard Jibunor, who began his career with Auburn, has at least one sack in five consecutive games for the Trojans.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Josh Vann (6) celebrates with running back ZaQuandre White (11) and tight end Jaheim Bell (0) after scoring a touchdown against the Eastern Illinois Panthers in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

With Troy visiting, South Carolina needs win before SEC run

The Troy Trojans, powered by a tough defense and a former SEC quarterback, will be looking for an upset on Saturday when they visit the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia.

Both teams are 2-2, and this will be the final “break” for the Gamecocks, whose next six games are against SEC opponents. South Carolina’s only other remaining nonconference game is its regular-season finale against in-state rival Clemson.

In other words, the Gamecocks — who enter Saturday on a two-game losing streak — need a win badly. They are 0-2 in league play.

Meanwhile, the Trojans, who are 0-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, enter Saturday coming off a 29-16 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

“We’ve got to do some soul-searching and figure out what our identity will be,” Troy coach Chip Lindsey said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The good news for the Trojans is that their defense ranks fourth in the nation in yards allowed per game (245.3). They are also tied for second in the nation with 18 sacks.

Troy defensive end Javon Solomon, a 6-2, 245-pound redshirt freshman, has 5 1/2 sacks, which is one-half sack off the national leader.

In addition, Trojans linebacker Carlton Martial has forced seven fumbles and picked off five passes in his four-year career. Martial, who has created two turnovers this year, is undersized at 5-9 and 210 pounds, but he is considered the best defensive player in his conference.

Offensively, Troy is led by quarterback Taylor Powell, who played two years for the Missouri Tigers, where he served as a backup to Drew Lock and Kelly Bryant.

At Troy, Powell has completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 1,008 yards, with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

However, Troy’s running game produced just 67 yards on 23 carries last week.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks, who opened as nine-point favorites against Troy, are now favored by just 7 1/2.

Like Troy, South Carolina has played tough defense. Gamecocks safety Jaylan Foster, for example, is tied for the national league with four interceptions.
Foster had a team-high 12 tackles in the 16-10 loss to Kentucky last week. R.J. Roderick, the Gamecocks’ other safety, is also a standout, and he had 10 tackles against Kentucky.

Up front, defensive end Kingsley Enagbare and defensive tackle Zacch Pickens may be the Gamecocks’ best two players.

“I love this new defense,” Enagbare said of South Carolina’s 4-2-5 alignment under first-year coordinator Clayton White. “The aggression isn’t just coming from blitzing. We attack everything.”

Offensively, the Gamecocks are led by quarterback Luke Doty, running back Kevin Harris and tight end Nick Muse. However, all three are underperforming.
Doty, blessed with a strong arm, has tossed two touchdown passes in two games. Harris is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, and Muse has only six catches for 51 yards.

A bright spot for the Gamecocks’ offense is senior wide receiver Josh Vann, who is averaging 22.9 yards per reception. He leads the team in scrimmage yards (297) and touchdowns (two).

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers wide receiver Kameron Brown (11) takes the field before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

McCall’s last-minute TD pass lifts No. 13 Coastal Carolina past Troy

Grayson McCall atoned for a late mistake with a 23-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Jaivon Heiligh with 35 seconds remaining as No. 13 Coastal Carolina took down host Troy 42-38 to complete an undefeated regular season Saturday at Troy, Alabama.

CJ Marable scored three touchdowns and McCall threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

Troy scored 15 points in the last five minutes to go ahead 38-35. Backup quarterback Jacob Free hit Tray Eafford for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 remaining to give the Trojans the lead for the first time. Free then connected with Khalil McClain on a two-point conversion pass.

Coastal Carolina (11-0, 8-0 Sun Belt Conference) needed just five plays to go back on top as McCall completed four of five throws on the drive. Jeffrey Gunter’s sack that forced a fumble thwarted Troy’s final possession.

McCall finished 24 of 29 for 338 yards and an interception for Coastal Carolina, which was coming off a monumental victory a week earlier against Brigham Young. The Chanticleers return home for next Saturday’s conference championship game against Louisiana.

Marable rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries.

Troy (5-6, 3-4) didn’t fade, scoring with 2:48 left on Jamontez Woods’ 3-yard run to cap a 75-yard march that took barely more than two minutes. When Carlton Martial intercepted McCall, the Trojans took over at the Coastal Carolina 40 with 2:36 to play before going ahead briefly.

Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson was 25-for-37 for 260 yards with a touchdown and interception. Free was 9-for-18 and 94 yards with an interception in relief.

The Chanticleers went up 28-16 after McCall’s 6-yard scoring pass to Heiligh with 4:33 left in the third quarter.

Watson’s 41-yard pass play to Reggie Todd just 75 seconds later kept the Trojans in it. McCall’s 2-yard run with 5:03 remaining seemed to put Coastal Carolina in good shape, up 35-23.

Marable scored two touchdowns in the first seven minutes as the Chanticleers built a 14-0 lead. He ran 59 yards for a score on the game’s first possession before scoring on a 20-yard pass play.

Marable’s 2-yard run at the 1:38 mark of the second quarter helped Coastal Carolina to a 21-13 edge. But Evan Legassey, who made a 42-yarder in the first quarter and a 28-yarder in the second quarter, connected from 23 yards out on the last play of the first half to cut the deficit.

Kimani Vidal scored Troy’s first touchdown on a 4-yard, second-quarter run to complete a 13-play drive that covered 87 yards. The Trojans’ first-half scoring drives consisted of 14, 13, 14 and eight plays.

–Field Level Media