TROY — Troy’s frustration in the first half during a season-ending loss on Friday to Appalachian State was summed up in an odd sequence that cost the Trojans field position — and eventually points — on a kickoff.
The Mountaineers had just scored a touchdown on Darrynton Evans’ 52-yard run for a 13-3 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, a Trojan signaled for a fair catch, which typically brings the ball out to the 25-yard line. Unfortunately, the player who gave the signal did not catch the kickoff. Referees marked the ball at the spot it was caught, which was Troy’s 2-yard line.
Senior quarterback Kaleb Barker was nearly intercepted on first down as he threw out of his end zone and had the pass batted down and nearly controlled by Desmond Franklin on first down.
On second down, Barker threw for Kaylon Geiger, but Appalachian State’s Shaun Jolly broke it up with a big hit. The ball deflected up and Franklin picked it off and returned it 20 yards to the 8-yard line, setting up a Zac Thomas touchdown run that put App State ahead 20-3 with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
Milestone: Troy linebacker Carlton Martial made a tackle early in the second half that gave him the most tackles in a season by a Troy player since the 2000 season. Martial, who had his sixth double-digit tackle game, had 124 and counting in the third quarter.
He also had two tackles for loss, which raised his season total to 18.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, fifth most for a Trojan in school history and three short of the school record.
Senior Day: It’s not a huge senior class, but Troy recognized 16 in pregame ceremonies.
Those recognized were quarterback Kaleb Barker, quarterback Kade Young, cornerback Jawon McDowell, cornerback Will Sunderland, defensive end Jarvis Hayes, defensive lineman Marcus Webb, defensive end Travis Sailo, linebacker A.J. Smiley, safety Melvin Tyus, fullback Zacc Weldon, offensive linemen J.L. Gaston, Kirk Kelley, Tristan Crowder and Bobby Klemm, spear Jeremiah Jones, and receiver Reid Rials.
Iron Man: Senior fullback Zacc Weldon from Skipperville finished his Troy career with 51 starts, including all 12 games this season. The next-closest Trojan in terms of consecutive game starts was right tackle J.L. Gaston with 38.
Weldon had flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, but was in the starting lineup on Saturday.
“Just a really great kid. Tough. Extremely tough. Kind of a dirty work guy,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said about Weldon this week. “Doesn’t get a lot of credit for things, but really is a key part in making the offense go, especially when we’re in the two-back set stuff.
“He’s unselfish, willing to do whatever for our team. He’s a true TKG — a Troy kind of guy — that you need on your football team. We’ll miss him. It’ll be hard to replace him.”
Weldon was shaken up about six minutes into the game. He was favoring his left ankle or knee, but walked off the field and into the injury tent.
Ranked foes: The Appalachian State game was Troy’s 24th game against a ranked opponent. Coming into the game against the No. 22 Mountaineers, the Trojans were 2-21 against nationally ranked foes.
Its two victories were the 2017 upset over No. 22 LSU and the 2004 win at home over No. 17 Missouri.
Troy’s most recent game against a ranked opponent was a season-opening home loss in 2018 against No. 22 Boise State.
Lineup changes: In a year that saw tons of them, the season finale was no different for Troy. Junior center Dylan Bradshaw of Enterprise was out for the game with an injury. He had started all 11 games up to the finale. Jake Andrews started for Bradshawk.
Senior cornerback Will Sunderland also was sidelined for the finale. Sunderland, like Bradshaw, had started all 11 games. Senior cornerback Jawon McDowell started at corner for the Trojans.
Junior linebacker Justin Whisenhunt also was sidelined for the game.
What’s next: Troy ends its season 5-7, under .500 for the first time since Neal Brown’s first Troy team went 4-8 in 2015.
The Trojans will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since that season. Without bowl practices, Lindsey and his staff will focus on the early signing period, which is Dec. 18-20.