TROY – Troy football officials have not heard from the Sun Belt Conference. The Sun Belt has heard from the Trojans regarding Saturday night’s 10-second runoff that prevented Troy from getting a final play off at the end of a furious drive in the 50-43 loss to visiting Arkansas State.
“We send stuff in every week,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said, asked about the final sequence. “The feel like they got it right. That’s really all we can do. It’s a hard job being a referee. I understand that. It’s a hard job coaching, too. We’re all in the same boat. Obviously, disappointed that we didn’t finish the drive and win the game.”
Lindsey said he watched the ending “more than once, for sure,” although he saw it more as a learning opportunity for quarterback Kaleb Barker.
“I’m not sure how many of those situations he’s really been in,” Lindsey said. “Not to say he did a poor job, I just thought there were some things you can always look back on and learn from. I know he was disappointed that we didn’t finish the drive. Obviously, if we’d had one more play, who knows?”
On the final play, Barker threw underneath to DK Billingsley for a short gain that was going to set up fourth-and-3 at the 9-yard line. During the play, left tackle Austin Stidham went down with an injury with around 10 seconds remaining.
The clock was stopped for the lineman – but it came at the cost of a 10-second runoff since it came in the final minute. As a result, the 10-second runoff ate up the final seconds of the game.
Martial’s magic: Troy’s final opportunity was set up by linebacker Carlton Martial’s interception that prevented Arkansas State from running out the clock.
The sophomore linebacker was second on the team with nine tackles. He had one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry, he forced and recovered a fumble and made the late interception to give his team a chance.
“He’s very consistent, brings no drama and is very unselfish,” Lindsey said about the sophomore. “It’s never about him, but instead it’s about the team and winning games. He gets a lot of recognition for making tackles, which he should, but at the end of the day he wants to win the game like all of us do.
“I’m really impressed with him. … He’s the same guy every day, and we’re very glad he’s on our team.”
Martial said creating turnovers is always big on the Trojans’ pregame goals.
“We have a list of things coaches want us to accomplish like the defense holds rushing under 3.3 yards (per carry), no big plays, keep them under 17 points, things like that,” the linebacker said. “Getting three takeaways a game is big on the totem pole. That’s what we try to get every game.”
Troy had three takeaways against the Red Wolves, a first for the season.
POW: Troy’s players of the week for the Arkansas State were receiver Kaylon Geiger for the offense, safety Dell Pettus for the defense and kicker-punter Tyler Sumpter for the special teams.
Geiger had eight catches for 111 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass. He also had his first rushing touchdown with a 2-yard run.
“That was my first time doing it. It was pretty cool,” Geiger said of the rushing attempt. “I finally got in there with a rushing touchdown. We practiced it all week.”
“He continues to make a lot of plays for us in a lot of ways,” Lindsey said. “We’re trying to find creative ways to get him the ball and get him some opportunities. I thought we did a better job of that last week.”
Pettus, a true freshman, led the Trojans with 10 tackles and two pass breakups, the coach noted.
“I think each week he continues to get better,” Lindsey said.
Sumpter was 3-for-3 on red zone field goal attempts, connecting from 20, 22 and 22 yards. He had four punts that averaged 41.5 yards and, more importantly, no punt return yardage.
“I thought he was outstanding,” the coach said. “I like the way he responded after missing a field goal earlier in the year.”
Road warriors: The Trojans return to their underdog role on Saturday with a game at SEC-member Missouri. Troy earned national attention the past seasons with wins at LSU in 2017 and at Nebraska in 2018.
Lindsey understands Troy won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season – particularly Missouri. The Tigers came to Troy and lost, 24-14, on Sept. 9, 2004.
“This is fun for us,” Lindsey said of the challenge this week. “This is an opportunity. I think our guys look forward to it. Obviously, win games like that you have to play well and have some things go your way.
“That’s what we’re anticipating doing. We’re putting a great plan together this week, going out and executing it. The guys, from their standpoint, they’re looking forward to this trip. That’s always fun to go on the road in an atmosphere like that and get the chance to compete.”