TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - You might have whiplash after the Troy (1-1) and Southern Miss (2-1) showdown. 89 combined points and over 1,100 total yards combined tilts in favor of the Golden Eagles as they came out on top of a 47-42 affair in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
In his presser earlier this week previewing this matchup, Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said Troy needed to keep Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham and wide receiver Jaylond Adams in check. The Trojans were unable to slow down either player.
Abraham threw for 463 yards and two touchdowns, and only misfired on eight passes all game. Adams erupted for a monstrous 11-catch, 180-yard performance. But it was wide receiver Quez Watkins who had the best day receiving. Watkins went over 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns on just seven catches.
The Trojans fell behind 14-0 early on. They’d almost captured the momentum with a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown but replay review determined the Southern Miss runner was down before the fumble happened. Shortly after that, the Golden Eagles were in the end zone for the first score of the game.
After USM jumped out front, the Trojans answered back with three scores of their own.
Kaleb Barker had a field day throwing the ball as he eclipsed 500 passing yards and four touchdown tosses. His first touchdown toss was a 57-yard strike to Kaylon Greiger. That score cut into the Southern Miss lead to make it 14-7.
Then in the second quarter, DK Billingsley punched it in from the 2-yard line to even the scoring. USM took a 17-14 lead into the half but Troy leaped back out in front in the third quarter behind the arm of Barker. His second touchdown pass of the game found Tray Eafford for 25 yards and Troy was back ahead. It would be Troy’s last lead.
Southern Miss pulled to within one point with another field goal and then Abraham tossed his first touchdown of the game. He hit Watkins on the 19-yard score to put the Eagles on top 26-21. Then, in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Neil McLaurin’s only completion of the game went accounted for a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Mitchell. USM looked like they were going to run away with it now up 12... until.
Until Reggie Todd returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards for the touchdown and brought Troy back to within five, but USM went tit for tat as Jaylond Adams flexed his dangerous abilities in the return game. Adams returned the kickoff 100 yards to put the Golden Eagles back up by 12.
Troy didn’t go away. They wouldn’t go away. Not in front a crowd of over 27,000.
Barker’s third touchdown pass to his third different receiver brought Troy back to within five. Khalil McClain caught the first of his two touchdown receptions and was one of four Troy receivers to eclipse the 100-yard mark.
It was a tug of war.
USM punched back. Nearly a minute after Troy’s score, with seven minutes in the game left, Abraham and Watkins linked up for a 64-yard touchdown connection to seemingly take control of this showdown.
The Trojans would bang on the end zone one final time. It was Barker’s fourth TD pass of the game, with 2:51 left to play and left it in the hands of the defense to get a stop, but they couldn’t do it. Barker finished with 504 passing yards, a new school record. Together the two starting quarterbacks combined for 967 passing yards.
Neither team forced a turnover in the game as the Golden Eagles return the favor Troy first dealt three seasons ago on USM’s home turf.
Troy now looks to regroup as they hit the road for the first time this season next week. They’ll be in Ohio taking on the Akron Zips. That game kicks at 2 p.m.