TROY, Ala. (KLFY) – Gunnar Watson tossed for three touchdowns, including a go-ahead 8-yard pass to Jabre Barber with 3:46 remaining and Troy held on for a hard-fought 31-24 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in a nationally-televised game on Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Watson, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 199 yards, directed Troy (9-2, 6-1 Sun Belt) on a 10-play, 75-yard drive after Louisiana (5-6, 2-5 Sun Belt) tied the game at 24-all on Chandler Fields’ 4-yard scoring pass to Terrance Carter with 7:19 left in the game.
Fields, in his second start of the season, threw for a career-high tying three touchdowns and set careers highs in attempts (39), completions (29) and yards (282) as Louisiana gained 348 yards of total offense – the third-most against Troy’s vaulted defense in 2023.
Louisiana got on the scoreboard first as Fields connected with Robert Williams in the right corner of the end zone for a 14-yard scoring pass with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter and a 7-0 lead.
The junior signal caller, who connected with 12 receivers in the game, found Williams for a 13-yard gain on third-and-2 at the UL 42 before running around right end for a 10-yard gain on fourth-and-1 to the Troy 14.
After both teams traded field goals, Troy tied the game at 10-10 in the second quarter when Kimani Vidal scored on a 13-yard run at the 5:39 mark. The Trojans would take a 17-10 lead at the break as Watson connected with Clayton Ollendieck on a 1-yard pass to complete a nine-play drive.
Neal Johnson tied the game at 17-17 in the third quarter when he hauled in a 4-yard scoring pass from Fields.
Watson would connect with Chris Lewis on a 4-yard pass to give the Trojans a 24-17 lead with 13:24 left before Louisiana would counter later in the quarter to knot the game for the third time.
Fields engineered a five-play, 58-yard scoring drive as he connected with Peter LeBlanc on a 14-yard pass on second-and-10 to the Troy 44. The Ragin’ Cajuns would dive into their bag of tricks on the following play as Johnson would haul in a 40-yard pass on a flea flicker to the Trojan 4.
Two plays later, Fields rolled right and connected with Carter, who beat a Trojan defender to the pylon for his third TD reception of the season.
The Trojans would take the lead for good on the following possession as they drove 75 yards in 10 plays. Troy benefited from a pass interference penalty against Louisiana on third-and-10 before Watson hit Lewis for a 16-yard pass on third-and-9 to the UL 44.
Watson would hit Barber for an 11-yard pass on the following play before Barber tossed a 20-yard strike to Devonte Ross on the following play to the UL 12 before the Trojans scored three plays later.
Vidal rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries as Troy held a 367-348 advantage in total yards. Barber and Ross each caught four passes to lead the Trojans with Richard Jibunor leading the team with seven tackles and one of Troy’s five sacks in the contest.
Tyrone Lewis recorded a career-best 11 tackles for Louisiana with K.C. Ossai collecting eight stops. Williams caught five passes to lead Louisiana with Zylan Perry rushing for a team-high 44 yards on eight carries.
Louisiana will close out the regular-season on Saturday (Nov. 25) when it hosts ULM in a 2 p.m. contest at Cajun Field. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.