Saturday, December 2, 2023

App State Falls to Troy in Sun Belt Title Game

TROY, AL – In a rain-soaked showdown at Veterans Memorial in Troy, Alabama, the first three quarters of the Sun Belt conference championship game was a gritty battle between the visiting App State Mountaineers and the Troy Trojans. Despite the inclement weather, a crowd of 20,183 ardent fans braved the elements to cheer on their teams, their roars echoing through the stadium. The atmosphere was electric, the stakes high, and the players on both sides gave it their all on the field, but it was the Trojans who rattled off twenty-eight points in the final quarter to win 49-23.

How it Happened

After a scoreless first quarter, both offenses finally found their rhythm. Troy’s junior running back Kimani Vidal, the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for two touchdowns, one for 7 yards and another for 36 yards, giving the West Division champions a 14-0 lead. The Mountaineers responded with a quick drive and one-yard touchdown rush by Kanye Roberts, narrowing the gap to 14-7.

In the third quarter, Kanye Roberts scored another rushing touchdown for the Mountaineers, tying the game at 14-all. The Trojans responded with a fifty-one-yard touchdown pass from Gunnar Watson to Chris Lewis. The Mountaineers added a 41-yard field goal by Michael Hughes, making the score 21-17 in favor of the Trojans. This was the closest the Mountaineers would be the rest of the night.

In the fourth quarter, the Trojans extended their lead with a 2-yard touchdown rush by Kimani Vidal and a 10-yard scoop and by Don Callis. The Mountaineers fought back with a 6-yard touchdown rush by Joey Aguilar, but the PAT rush failed. The Trojans sealed their victory with two more rushing touchdowns by Kimani Vidal, one for 6 yards and another for 49 yards, making the final score 49-23 in favor of the Trojans.

Top Performers

For the Mountaineers, quarterback Joey Aguilar completed 28 of 39 passes for a total of 275 yards. On the ground, Kanye Roberts led the rushing attack with fifty-three yards and two touchdowns on thirteen carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Anderson Castle and Nate Noel also contributed to the rushing game with forty-seven yards each. In the receiving corps, Kaedin Robinson led with seventy yards on six receptions, followed by Christen Horn with forty-two yards on five receptions. On the defensive side for the Mountaineers, Nick Ross, EJ Jackson, Ethan Johnson, and C. Sullivan each recorded six tackles. Andrew Parker Jr. also contributed with five total tackles.

For the Trojans, Kimani Vidal had an outstanding game, rushing for 233 yards and five touchdowns on twenty-six carries, averaging an impressive nine yards per carry. On the defensive side, Dell Pettus led with eleven total tackles and one sack, followed by Javon Solomon with eight total tackles and two sacks. Reddy Steward and Irshaad Davis also made significant contributions to the defense.