NOTEBOOK – Troy Wins Battle of Strength Against Strength

Something had to give when Troy’s attacking defense ran into Georgia Southern’s run-heavy option attack.
 
The Eagles managed just 82 yards on the ground on 38 attempts. They came into the game averaging 291 yards per game.
 
“I thought our front dominated,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said. “We held them under 100 yards rushing. When you hold an option football team to under 100 yards rushing, it’s pretty stout. We still didn’t play our best, either. We keep getting better each week.”
 
Troy’s defense has allowed just 4 of 12 touchdowns when opponents are in the red zone. Georgia Southern was 1 for 3 Saturday night.
 
Troy forced a negative play on 23.1 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. The Trojans forced 12 tackles for loss and intercepted Eagles quarterback Justin Tomlin three times.
 
The Trojans came into the game ranked first in the country in the percentage of negative plays (18.5 percent).
 
Fast start: Troy took the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards in 10 plays and holding the ball for 4:17 before Brooks Buce kicked a 29-yard field goal. 
 
The kick was Buce’s second field goal of the season.
 
That marked 21 times that Troy has taken the opening kickoff under head coach Chip Lindsey and the 13th time the Trojans came away with points in that game-opening possession.
 
Just as significant, the defense held Georgia Southern to a three-and-out on its opening drive. It was the first time since the season opener that Troy’s opponent did not score on its first possession.
 
Busy: Tez Johnson was a frequent early target for Gunnar Watson. One of Troy’s slot receivers, Johnson caught two passes on the opening drive and three passes on the first four plays of its second possession. That gave him five catches for 35 yards in Troy’s first 14 offensive plays. He finished with six catches for 38 yards. 
 
Big plays: Reggie Todd caught a long pass up the left sideline from Watson, who dropped it in despite close coverage. The play covered 30 yards and helped set up Troy’s first touchdown. It was the longest pass play to Todd this season. Todd also recorded his 100th career reception during the game and finished with four catches for 71 yards. He now has 101 career catches.
Another big play was turned in by Orlando Lacey, who caught a 31-yard reception up the left sideline from Watson. It was the junior from Opp’s first reception of the season.
 
First-half explosion: Jamontez Woods also was involved very early. The redshirt freshman running back from Gadsden had a 33-yard run deep into Georgia Southern territory on Troy’s first touchdown drive. To that point, it was the longest run of his career. 
 
He later topped that with a 34-yard burst up the middle and outran everybody to the end zone. Woods finished the first half with seven carries for 96 yards. He ended the game with nine attempts and a career-high 98 yards.
 
Woods shares carries with leading rusher Kimani Vidal and veteran B.J. Smith, who was held out of Saturday’s game.
 
“B.J. and Kimani are great teammates and leaders,” Woods said. “The rotation group in the running back room, we’re, like, stacked. They always motivate me to go in, do what I’m supposed to do, pass protection and everything else.”
 
The series: Troy leads the series against Georgia Southern 14-7, including a 7-3 edge at The Vet. 
 
What’s next: Saturday’s brief home sighting was Troy’s only home game in October. The Trojans return to the road for a conference game at Texas State in San Marcos next Saturday. Kickoff is 2 p.m. They close the month at Coastal Carolina for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. Troy’s next game at The Vet is on Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. against rival South Alabama. 

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