Kimani Vidal’s 22-yard touchdown run with 5 seconds remaining capped an incredible comeback for Troy, which won 23-17 at Louisiana on Saturday.
The Trojans (7-2 overall, 5-1 Sun Belt Conference) trailed 17-0 before the final play of the third quarter at Cajun Field. Troy scored a touchdown on that play, then 16 straight in the fourth quarter to record its sixth straight victory.
With the win, Troy holds onto first place in the Sun Belt West Division with two conference games remaining. The Trojans are a half-game ahead of South Alabama, whom they beat 10-6 on Oct. 20 to seize the head-to-head tiebreaker.
On Saturday, homestanding Louisiana (4-5, 2-4) looked destined to play the spoiler to Troy’s first-place status. The Ragin’ Cajuns used two Ben Woolridge touchdown runs and a Kenneth Almandares field goal to lead 17-0 as the clock ticked down in the third quarter.
But Troy finally got on the board when Gunnar Watson hit tight end Michael Vice for a 3-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal to make it 17-7 after three quarters. The Trojans defense then forced a punt, and turned it into Watson’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Deyunkrea Lewis to pull within 17-14 at the 12:01 mark.
After three straight punts, Troy took over on its 26 with 5:13 to play. Watson hit Tez Johnson for 25 yards and RaJaé Johnson for 35, setting up Brooks Buce’s 37-yard field goal and a 17-17 tie with 2:41 left.
The Troy defense forced a fourth straight Louisiana punt with 1:22 left, getting the ball at their own 32. A pass interference penalty and two completions to Tez Johnson put the ball on the Louisiana 32, and Vidal took over from there.
He ran 10 yards to the 22 with 10 seconds left, and Troy called timeout. Vidal made a field goal attempt moot when he run down the right sideline and dove into the end zone, with officials first ruling him out at the 2 before overturning the call via replay and awarding the Trojans a touchdown.
Buce’s extra point was blocked, and Troy led 23-17. Louisiana tried a multi-lateral, razzle-dazzle play on their final snap, but went nowhere.
Watson completed 21 of 35 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, while Tez Johnson had eight catches for 81 yards. Vidal totaled 112 yards on 21 carries, including the game-winning score.
Carlton Martial led the Troy defense with 13 tackles, along with a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. The Mobile native extended his Sun Belt Conference career tackles record to 526, 19 behind the all-time FBS record of 545 held by former Northwestern linebacker Tim McGarigle.
Troy steps out of conference to face Army at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium, then hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 19.