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A special night for Troy linebacker Carlton Martial was made even more special by the final result.
The Trojans opened up Sun Belt Conference play with a 16-7 victory over Marshall on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Martial had 18 tackles in the game, which pushed him to the Sun Belt Conference career leader in tackles with 460.
“I’m so incredibly happy for the win tonight, first and foremost,” said Martial, who didn’t play last week because of an injury. “As for the record, I’ve always been judged by my size, but my dad always asked, ‘Why not you?’ I give all the credit to my coaches and my defensive line. Those guys are awesome and I could go on and on talking about the work they put in. We’re just 11 guys playing the game with incredible detail and those are the results.”
The 5-foot-9, 210-pound senior led the way in the Trojans biggest victory of the season.
“Two weeks ago, Carlton got hurt in the second half of the game,” said Troy head coach Jon Sumrall. “The prognosis was, it could be two weeks, could be four weeks. We didn’t know. We pushed it and wanted to play (him) last week. I wasn’t going to put him in a position that would be compromising. I shut him down late in the week and said, ‘Hey, we got a long season here and I love ya and I want to see you play, but I want to see you play the whole year.’ This week, he looked really good at practice.”
He carried that over to Saturday against a Marshall team that, just two weeks ago, gained national attention with a win at Notre Dame. The Thundering Herd followed that with a loss last week at Bowling Green but Troy head coach Jon Sumrall knew it was a tremendous challenge for his team, particularly coming off the loss at Appalachian State on a final play Hail Mary.
The Trojans were more than up to the challenge in a game that they never trailed. Marshall managed 174 yards in offense with quarterback Henri Colombi throwing 49 yards and backup Cam Fancher throwing for 29 yards. The quarterbacks were sacked five times.
One of the sacks led to Troy’s lone touchdown. Colombi lost the football while being sacked by T.J. Jackson. Troy lineman Buddha Jones scooped up the loose ball and outran everyone to the end zone to give Troy a 7-0 first quarter lead.
The Trojans led, 10-0, but Marshall sliced into the lead with a 14-yard touchdown run by Khalan Laborn in the third quarter. The only other scoring after that was on a pair of field goals by Brooks Buce.
Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson was 15-of-25 for 351 yards with an interception. He was also sacked three times. Wide receivers Jabre Barber (four catches for 101 yards) and Tez Johnson (two catches for 121 yards) had big games for the Trojans.
“Really great win for our team and for our program,” Sumrall said. “I think we came back after the heartbreak of last week and competed. We would also like to thank our fans for showing out tonight. I’m really proud of our guys for how they responded after last week.”
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