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Troy trips up No. 25 LSU 24-21
BATON ROUGE, La. — For a 20-point underdog, Troy’s stunning 24-21 upset of No. 25 LSU Saturday night was less a case of the third time being the charm as it was a manifesto of dominance from start to finish.
After nearly knocking off LSU in Tiger Stadium in 2004 and 2008, the Trojans (4-1) controlled the game Saturday night by forcing four turnovers, racing to a 17-0 lead, converting third down after third down and controlling the clock.
And, this time, they hung on for an epic victory.
“We’ve kicked on that door so many times,” said an emotional Troy coach Neal Brown, who was the Trojans’ offensive coordinator in 2008 when they played too much up-tempo because of the lack of a running game, blew a 21-point second-half lead to LSU and ended up losing 40-31. “We were close in ‘04 (a 24-20 loss), close in ‘08. At halftime, I asked the players, ‘Are we going to be the team that finishes?’”
“It was a huge win,” Brown added. “So many things go into wins like this. This is huge for our university, huge for our community, huge for our program, huge for our kids. I thought we were the most physical team tonight.”
Brown’s perspective was born out by the facts. Tailback Jordan Chunn rushed for 191 yards on 30 carries, including a 74-yard burst up the gut to the LSU 1 on the first series of the second half that culminated in a dive play for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
Quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for only 157 yards, but he had success moving the chains, completing 16-of-28 passes and running for a short score on a read-option after Troy forced and recovered an LSU fumble by Nick Brossette on the first play of the game.
Even more importantly, the Trojans went 10-of-18 on third down and converted both fourth-down plays against a normally stout LSU defense. Troy controlled the clock for nearly 35 minutes.
The Troy defense, meanwhile, stuffed the LSU offense, which could not convert a third down in eight tries. Troy forced two interceptions and two fumbles, turning them into 14 points.
“We were outcoached and outplayed tonight, that’s the bottom line,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron, whose team fell to 3-2 and almost certainly will be unranked entering SEC play on the road against Florida next week. “Four turnovers — critical — and then 0-for-8 on third down while they were 10-of-18 on third down. They had 206 yards rushing. It seemed like we got out-physicalled by Troy tonight, which is not Tiger football.”
LSU (3-2) had won 49 consecutive home games against nonconference opponents, but Troy (4-1) dominated the game from start to finish. The victory marked Troy’s second win over a ranked opponent since the school moved to the FBS in 2001. The Trojans are 2-20 all-time against ranked teams. LSU joins Missouri, which was ranked 17th when it lost 24-14 at Troy in 2004.
Tigers freshman Myles Brennan replaced Danny Etling at quarterback in the third quarter Saturday and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Foster Moreau to cut the deficit to 17-7, but Brennan’s interception on LSU’s next possession led to Troy’s 10-play, 64-yard drive for a 24-7 lead. Josh Anderson got the payoff with a 7-yard run.
Etling returned midway through the fourth quarter and threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Russell Gage, making it 24-14 with 7:41 left. Etling added a 20-yard scoring pass to Moreau with 1:59 left to pull LSU within 24-21, but Troy recovered the onside kick and punted with 20 seconds left.
Troy normally speeds up the game by running a quick-tempo offense, but Brown said he has learned his lesson from the 2008 loss to LSU, when they threw 71 times and blew the big lead.
“I would hope that I’ve matured as a football coach and as a person since 2008, no doubt from a play-calling standpoint where you are able to control the game from a clock standpoint,” Brown said.
Troy also converted a fourth-and-9 from the LSU 41 just before halftime that turned into a 37-yard field goal by Evan Legassey as time expired.
With seven seconds left in the second quarter and no timeouts, Silvers threw a crossing pattern to wide receiver John Johnson, who was tackled at the LSU 20 as the clock appeared to have run out.
Upon reviewing the play, however, the officials ruled Johnson was tackled with two seconds left — the clock should have stopped for the first down — and they called both teams back onto the field from their locker rooms.
The Trojans snapped the ball on the referee’s signal, and Legassey’s 37-yard boot hit the crossbar and fell over for the 10-0 lead.
“That field goal was huge,” Brown said.
Especially when you win by three.
Troy cornerback Blace Brown, whose interception closed out the game, said this year’s team was playing for the previous teams who had fallen just short against LSU.
“This game was bigger than me,” Brown said. “This is for those guys who didn’t finish. This is for them.”
NOTES: Sitting in a motorized chair, House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, who was gunned down while practicing for a Congressional charity baseball game in July, greeted LSU coach Ed Orgeron on the sideline before kickoff. Scalise, an LSU graduate, returned to work Thursday on Capitol Hill and was given a standing ovation in the House of Representatives. He was joined on the sideline by wife Jennifer and their two children, Maddy and Harrison. ... RB Nick Brossette’s fumble on LSU’s first play from scrimmage was the first Tigers fumble in 315 consecutive carries.