LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — B.J. Smith scored on a 26-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and Will Sunderland made an interception in the final 3 minutes, giving Troy the cushion it needed to beat Nebraska 24-19 on Saturday and denying new Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost his first win.
The Huskers (0-2) have lost their first two games for the first time since 1957 and have dropped six straight home games since beating Rutgers Sept. 23, 2017.
The Trojans (2-1) of the Sun Belt Conference took down a power-five conference opponent for the second straight year. Last year they won at then-No. 25 LSU.
Sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch, starting at quarterback for Nebraska in place of the injured Adrian Martinez, converted a fourth-and-8 while leading the Huskers on a 75-yard drive to pull Nebraska to 24-19 with 2:55 left.
But Sunderland stepped in front of his pass along the sideline intended for JD Spielman, starting the celebration on the Troy bench.
Troy got a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cedarius Rookard while getting out to a 17-0 lead and was up 17-7 at half. But the Trojans were teetering after Nebraska kicked field goals to cut it to 17-13 in the third quarter.
After the Trojans forced a punt early in the fourth quarter, they went 62 yards in 10 plays to make it a two-score game. Kaleb Barker converted two third-and-longs, passing on one and running on the other, and Nebraska safety Aaron Williams was called for pass interference on a third-and-9 to keep the Trojans' drive alive. Smith broke through the line untouched on his way to the end zone on his TD run.
Troy: This is mostly a new cast of Trojans, but once again they showed they aren't intimidated playing a blue blood opponent on the road. It's the lift they needed after losing to Boise State in their opener and beating an FCS opponent last week.
Nebraska: The Huskers couldn't get out of their own way. They had two turnovers and a missed field goal among their first five possessions, gave up the long punt return and had costly personal fouls on a Troy touchdown drive. Mohamed Barry was ejected for his head-on-head hit at the end of a run by backup quarterback Sawyer Smith.
Troy visits Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Nebraska visits Michigan for its Big Ten opener Saturday.
3 –– Nebraska recorded three sacks in the game, following seven sacks in the season opener against Colorado. The combined 10 sacks in the first two games marks the first time Nebraska has had 10 or more sacks in the first two games since registering 16 sacks in the first two games of the 2005 season.
· Nebraska totaled 14 sacks as a defense in 2017.
16 –– Nebraska senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for his 16th career touchdown catch. The touchdown moved Morgan into a tie for fifth on the NU career receiving touchdowns list
· Morgan caught five passes for 64 yards, increasing his career receptions total to 129 and moving him within nine receptions (138 is fifth) of the top five on the NU career receptions list.
· Morgan has caught at least one pass in 28 straight games, tying for the fourth-longest streak in Nebraska history.
· Freshman running back Maurice Washington rushed 14 times for 92 yards. Washington led all players with 92 yards and tied Greg Bell for the team lead in carries.
· Sophomore receiver JD Spielman caught a game-high six passes for 45 yards in the game. Spielman increased his career receiving yardage total to 942 yards in 13 career games. Spielman is 58 yards from becoming the fastest Husker to reach 1,000 receiving yards, bettering Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers who reached that yardage plateau in 16 career games.
· Cornerback Lamar Jackson recorded his first career interception in the first quarter. The interception by Jackson marked the Huskers’ first interception by a cornerback in 21 games, dating back to Chris Jones’ interception return for a touchdown at Indiana in 2016.
· Quarterback Andrew Bunch made his first career start in today’s game. Bunch threw for 177 yards on 19-for-27 passing, including a two touchdowns
· Senior linebacker Luke Gifford tallied one sack for four yards in today’s game. Gifford has 2.5 sacks for 15 yards this season, after entering 2018 with 1.5 career sacks.
· True freshman tight end Cameron Jurgens and receiver Andre Hunt made their Husker debuts in today’s game.
· The 79-yard punt by Troy’s Tyler Sumpter in the first quarter was the longest by a Nebraska opponent in 20 years.
· The 58-yard punt return for a touchdown by Troy was the first by a Nebraska opponent since Arkansas State’s Blaise Taylor had a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 2017 season opener.