MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The Troy Trojans polished off their best season as an FBS program thanks largely to a defense that kept taking the ball away.
Jordan Chunn had three short touchdown runs and the Trojans intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble in a 28-23 victory over Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl on Friday night.
The Trojans (10-3) finished off their first 10-win season since moving up to the FBS in 2001, thanks largely to a defense that came up with three big fourth-quarter stops. The first Sun Belt Conference team to crack the Top 25, Troy forced 18 turnovers in its last five games.
“Tonight in a lot of ways was a microcosm of our season,” second-year coach Neal Brown said. “We’re sitting here 10-3 and quite honestly it wasn’t always pretty. We’ve won a bunch of different ways.”
This time it was mainly a defense that hounded quarterback Greg Windham into mistakes and kept delivering stops.
The result was a win in the program’s first bowl game since 2010.
The Bobcats (8-6) settled for field goal attempts twice in the fourth quarter, making one, and got one more chance from their own 15 with 2:20 left and no timeouts. They managed one first down, but Windham couldn’t throw for another one under heavy pressure.
Ohio coach Frank Solich said the average gain per completion was “a good reason to stick with him.”
“All those turnovers we had weren’t all his fault,” said Solich, who fell to 4-9 in bowl games as a head coach. “Obviously, he’d like to have a few plays back. It’s kind of a tough way to go. I thought Greg showed great toughness and I felt like he gave us our best chance of winning.”
Louie Zervos had made a 37-yard field goal with 4:01 left to cut Troy’s lead to 28-23. They had first down from the 12 before a personal foul penalty against lineman Jake Pruehs. Solich said he wasn’t sure what happened to prompt the flag.
“I’m anxious to take a look at that play on film,” he said. “It was obviously a huge call in the game. I’m going to study that quick and hard.”
Chunn found little room to run except near the goal line against the nation’s sixth-ranked run defense. He had 56 yards on 20 carries to earn offensive MVP honors.
Deondre Douglas gained 113 yards on six catches. Ohio’s Jordan Reid had 12 catches for 162 yards.
Troy’s fourth interception came courtesy of 315-pound defensive tackle Trevon Sanders. One play later, Chunn powered in for a touchdown and a 28-17 third-quarter lead.
Linebacker Justin Lucas made another big one when he was closing in on Windham when the ball came right to him to set up Troy’s third touchdown. He earned game MVP honors.
Rashad Dillard was credited with three pressures on Windham and was the defensive MVP.
“Going into the week, everybody kept talking about Ohio’s defense, how good they were,” Dillard said. “Our offense versus their defense. We knew that we were just as good if not better.”
Ohio: Couldn’t overcome the mistakes despite a number of big plays from Windham and Reid. Windham completed 23 of 47 passes and the offense gained just 78 yards on 30 rushes.
Troy: Converted three of Ohio’s five turnovers into touchdowns. Was outgained 393-322.
PICK PARTY: Interceptions were on sale at Dollar General. Both teams had two in the first 9:17 of the game, and Windham was picked twice more.
CHUNN’S MARK: Chunn scored his school-record 35th career touchdown on Troy’s opening drive, breaking a tie with Joe Jackson (1994-97) with a season left to play. He finished his junior year with 37.