You may have noticed Thursday nights 35-3 thumping of Troy was very similar to another another Thursday night in November Sun Belt road game.
The Red Wolves started slowly, very slowly in fact, before a score right before the half turned the tide as A-State dominated the second half.
So very similar to the 40-27 victory at Appalachian State a year ago. In that contest, an underdog Red Wolves team, dominated the second half and crushed the hopes of the home team that was unbeaten in conference play.
The difference was this year A-State lead 7-3 whereas a year ago the Mountaineers led 21-17 at the half but a 17-0 ASU third quarter led turned the game around. A-State added a pair of fourth-quarter field goals to cap a 26-0 run.
This time, Troy led 3--0 on a 43-yard field goal before a stagnant A-State offense, seven straight possessions that was just 27 plays, came to life on the with an 80-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard pass from Justice Hansen to Kendall Sanders.
Here are some observations on how it happened:
--The defense: While the offense was asleep, the Red Wolves defense stayed strong and kept the team in the game. Troy finished with 262 yards, 75 of that in the first quarter. In all, the Trojans’ offense numbers weren't even close to what they were averaging.
--The fake punt: A-State slipped Cameron Echols-Luper into the game in punt formation and stopped his rugby style approach and tossed a pass to a wide-open Chris Humes for a 31-yard gain to keep the scoring drive alive.
--Chris Odom: Man don’t wish he’d been redshirted. The emerging defensive end had two forced fumbles, the second resulted in a touchdown when Humes recovered in the end zone on the first play of the second half.
Turnovers: Man how long it when A-State was a turnover machine. The Red Wolves forced 5 and did not have any. A big factor in the outcome.
--Blaise Taylor 1 on 1: With A-State leading 21-3, the Trojans mounted their best drive of the second half, reached the A-State 7 where they went for it on fourth down. E Thompson caught the pass but Taylor gave no ground and stopped the Troy receiver a yard short of the first and goal.
--The drive: After Justin Clifton’s interception stopped a Troy drive at the 9, the Red Wolves mounted their second best drive of the season (topped only by the winning drive vs. Georgia Southern). With Chad Voytik at quarterback, A-State took over with 14:04 left and 16 plays and almost 11 minutes later Daryl Rollins-Davis scored from the 6 to make it 35-3. It included two third-down conversions and a one on fourth-down. All of it was on the ground and Rollins-Davis, seeing a larger role, gained 32 of the final 33 yards.
--Troy coach Neal Brown made a note of mentioning A-State recruiting success in the state and how they hoped to use this game to re-establish roots at home. But several Alabama kids had big games, Humes (pass reception, fumble return and PBU), Echols-Luper (3 catches, 15 yards, 31-yard pass), Taylor (3 tackles, 1 PBU), Xavier Woodson-Luster (6.5 tackles, 1 for loss), Dee Liner (2 tackles, one for loss).