Troy’s status as a college football giant killer is alive and well.
For the second year in a row, the Trojans strolled into one of the game’s hallowed grounds on Saturday, refused to be intimidated and claimed an unlikely victory.
Sparked by a first-half punt return and a clutch fourth-quarter drive, Troy notched a 24-19 win over Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., to drop the Cornhuskers to 0-2 for the first time since 1957.
The Trojans (2-1) sealed the victory with a fourth-quarter defensive stop when safety Will Sunderland — a transfer from Oklahoma — snared a deflected pass off the hands of Nebraska’s JD Spielman with 2:15 left on the clock.
The Huskers got the ball back after forcing a Troy three-and-out before the turnover, their third of the day.
Before the final drama, the Trojans padded a lead they held all day after scoring the first 17 points of the game with a gritty offensive series.
Three times Troy faced third-and-9 and three times it converted — Kaleb Barker’s pass to Sidney Davis for 13 yards, a critical defensive pass interference on Nebraska and Barker’s 17-yard pickup on a draw.
The Trojans were called for a hold on the first play after Barker’s run, but that didn’t faze them: On the next snap, B.J. Smith bolted through a gaping hole on a simple lead play and dashed 26 yards to the end zone for a 24-13 advantage with 6:45 to go.
In desperation mode, Nebraska answered by marching 75 yards in 11 plays. Andrew Bunch zipped a 26-yard pass to tight end Kurt Rafdal on fourth-and-8 to set up a 7-yard TD strike to Spielman with 2:55 left.
But the late turnover squashed the Huskers’ hopes for a stirring comeback win.
Troy prevailed despite managing only 253 total yards. Converting three of the last four third downs was a major key.
Smith finished with 70 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Nebraska rushed for 187 yards, led by freshman Maurice Washington with 92 on 14 attempts. Bunch threw for 177 and two scores, but was also picked off twice.
Troy won at LSU 24-21 last season.
–Field Level Media