Trojans must defeat ranked App. State to gain bowl eligibility

Trojans must defeat ranked App. State to gain bowl eligibility
Troy wide receiver Khalil McClain (Source: Troy Athletics)

TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - Fresh off the heels of both the worst overall and Sun Belt Conference loss since the 2014 season, the Troy Trojans need to regroup quickly ahead of their next game.

It’s a short week for the Trojans and its no rest for the weary. Following the 53-3 loss last Saturday to Louisiana, Troy now welcomes in a ranked foe in Appalachian State this Friday for what could be the final game of the season for Troy.

Chip Lindsey’s squad sits at 5-6 on the season, needing a huge win over the Mountaineers to move to bowl eligibility. But it’s not like the Mountaineers are just going to lie down and hand the Trojans a W.

“When you look at App State on film you see why they’re 10-1 and the Sun Belt East Division winners. They’re a really well-rounded football team, which is why they’re 10-1 and going to play for a conference championship,” said Lindsey.

App State enters ranked at No. 22 in both the Coaches and AP polls, and No. 25 in this week’s edition of the College Football Playoff rankings.

They’re equally as dominant as the Louisiana team Troy faced over the weekend in that App has both a powerful offense and stifling defense.

When it comes to offense, the Mountaineers are second in the conference, and 11th nationally, averaging 38.1 points per game. Their running game is top four in the conference at 228.9 yards per game on the ground and boast the conference’s second-leading rusher in Darrynton Evans.

“He looks like an NFL guy. I’m very impressed with the way he runs the ball both inside and outside and with how he catches the ball. He’s a complete back,” said Lindsey of the workhorse back.

Evans has rushed for 1,168 yards and leads the conference in rushing touchdowns (14) and total touchdowns (17) outside of the quarterback position. Evans plays a vital role in the return game as well which means the Trojans will have to be sure to keep the ball out of No. 3′s hands as best they can.

On defense, App State is on par with Louisiana. They lead the conference in total defense, passing defense (176.2 yards per game), and rank second in scoring defense at just 19.3 points per game and own the Sun Belt’s second-best rushing defense at 143.4 yards per game.

When you look at the numbers, even after Troy’s poor offensive performance last week they’re still towards the top of several offensive categories.

Lindsey said last week’s performance was unacceptable, but this week is senior week and the Trojans close things out at home. He’s looking forward to the challenge.

“This week I think you’ll see our guys respond this weekend in a way that will make the program and University proud,” said Lindsey.

Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker, although he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in a game for the first time all season, still leads the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He can get hot at a moment’s notice. The senior quarterback will play his final game inside Veterans Memorial Stadium Friday and he’s had a memorable senior season. He’s hoping to end it with a bang.

“Last game. Last home game, you know, I’m excited,” said Barker.

Troy’s last home meeting against the Mountaineers went well. In the fall of 2016, the Trojans came back late, scoring in the final minute of play, and batted down a Hail Mary pass as time expired to defeat the Mountaineers 28-24. It would lead to the Trojans becoming the first Sun Belt Conference team to be ranked in the AP Poll.

The final home game of Barker’s and the 16 other Trojans seniors’ careers will kick off at 5 p.m.

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