TROY, Ala. - Western Kentucky rallied from an early 10-point deficit and held off a late Troy charge to defeat the Trojans 31-26 Thursday night in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Hilltoppers (5-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) used touchdowns on the final possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half to build a 21-17 lead that they would not relinquish.
Troy (3-3, 2-2) had its chances towards the end of the game trailing 28-26, but couldn't overcome some unfortunate luck. The Trojans forced and recovered a fumble on the Hilltoppers 41-yard line midway through the final quarter; however, the replay official overturned the close call which allowed Western Kentucky to punt on fourth-and-1 and pin the Trojans on their own 24-yard line.
On the ensuing possession, Troy quarterback Deon Anthony threw to a wide-open Chip Reeves across the middle, but Reeves collided with the umpire to cause an incomplete pass. The Trojans reached their own 42-yard line on the drive, but came up a yard short on fourth-and-2 with 6:06 to play in the game.
The Hilltoppers milked almost five minutes off the clock with a 10-play drive and got a 26-yard field goal from Garrett Schwettman with 1:12 to play to take a five-point lead, 31-26.
Troy quickly moved the ball into Western Kentucky territory with a 22-yard pass from Anthony to Jaquon Robinson on second down. Facing third-and-10, the Trojans were called for a 15-yard leg whip penalty and the following two pass attempts fell incomplete to seal the victory for the Hilltoppers.
The Trojans scored on their first two drives of the game as Will Scott booted a 33-yard field goal on the first drive and Corey Robinson threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Chip Reeves following an Antonio Andrews fumble.
Reeves finished with three catches for 110 yards for his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. It is the first time since 2009 (Jerrel Jernigan) that a Troy player has reached the 100-yard receiving mark three times in a season; no Troy player has done it four times.
Corey Robinson was 6-of-11 for 106 yards and a touchdown before suffering an injury right before halftime that knocked him out of the game. Anthony took all the snaps in the second half and was 9-of-16 for 147 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 26 yards on six carries.
The Trojans did not turn the ball over in the game, which snapped a streak of 17 straight games with a turnover, while the Troy defense forced two turnovers and easily could have had a third.
Tony Davis led the Troy defense with a pair of sacks, both of which forced a fumble. Camren Hudson had eight tackles and a forced fumble, while Kanorris Davis had seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
Kawaun Jakes put the Hilltoppers on the board with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Henry with 58 seconds to play in the opening half. Jakes finished 21-of-31 for 255 yards and three touchdowns on the night. Andrews had 113 yards on 26 carries, while Willie McNeal had six catches for 68 yards.
On the ensuing possession the Trojans dipped into a bag of tricks that hadn't been dusted off since 1991. Troy marched down to the Western Kentucky 7-yard line but couldn't punch it in on six different attempts following a pass interference that gave the Trojans a fresh set of downs. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Trojans faked the field goal as holder Jaquon Robinson threw a shovel pass to D.J. Taylor for the score. It was the first fake field goal by a Troy team since 1991 in Larry Blakeney's fourth game as the Trojans head coach.
The Hilltoppers returned the favor with a 17-play drive right before the half that erased 7:28 of the remaining 8:02 on the first-half clock. Western Kentucky converted three third downs on the drive, including a third-and-18 from the Troy 42-yard line.
A 33-yard kickoff return by Chandler Worthy gave the Trojans solid field position on their own 39-yard line with all three timeouts and 34 seconds to work with. On the first play of the drive, Bar'ee Boyd sacked Corey Robinson and ended his night.
Western Kentucky came out of the half and marched 75 yards on seven plays capped by a Kadeem Jones 1-yard touchdown run.
Scott closed the gap to 21-20 with a 22-yard field goal after the teams traded a pair of punts. Jakes found Jones from 18 yards out following the Troy field goal to put Western Kentucky up by eight, 28-20.
Anthony moved the Trojans down with field with ease on the ensuing possession. Eric Thomas made a circus catch around two defenders for a 47-yard touchdown to pull Troy within two. The Trojans went for two and Anthony's pass fell incomplete.
Troy remains at home next week as it plays host to FIU in a game televised by the Sun Belt Network (CSS/CST). Kickoff between the Trojans and Panthers is scheduled for 12 p.m.