Troy fell behind by 12 points in the first half of the Cure Bowl against Conference USA champion UTSA. At halftime, the Sun Belt champion Trojans trailed by five points.

The Trojans met both of those things with a shrug.

They’ve been there before. For the past 11 games, they always had an answer. So, it certainly wasn’t a surprise to see the Trojans find a way to come away with an 18-12 victory over UTSA on Friday at Exploria Stadium.

“I think we’ve done that all year, we found a way to get it done,” said Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson on the Troy radio network after the game.

Getting it done means the Trojans add a bowl championship to a season that also includes conference champions, 12 wins overall and 11 wins in succession. It also ends a tremendous first season as a college head coach for Jon Sumrall.

“They bowed their neck all year,” Sumrall said on the Troy radio network. “We didn’t play our best football in the first half, in either phase really. But this group has stayed together all year. I could not be more proud.”

A bad snap by Troy led to a safety to open the scoring. UTSA (11-3) added a 2-yard touchdown pass from Frank Harris to Zakhari Franklin and a 42-yard field goal by Jared Sackett to build the 12-0 lead. A strange play led to Troy cutting into the lead late in the half. Watson threw a deep pass that appeared to be nearly intercepted by Clifford Chattman. Officials on the field ruled that it was an incomplete pass, but video replay officials ruled the ball was intercepted, fumbled and and recovered by Troy at the UTSA 13-yard line.

Chattman was called for interference in the end zone on second down, giving Troy the ball at the 2-yard line, and Kimani Vidal wedged in for the score to trim the deficit to 12-7 at halftime.

At halftime, the Trojans had just 66 yards in offense. However, the Trojan defense was also doing a good job of limiting Harris and the explosive UTSA offense to little success.

Troy pitched a shutout in the second half, largely thanks to the ability to force turnovers and come up with timely stops. UTSA turned the ball over five times overall with Harris throwing a pair of interceptions. Richard Jubinor forced and recovered a Harris fumble early in the third quarter and Keyshawn Swanson ended the next Roadrunner drive with another forced fumble and recovery.

The biggest defensive play of the third quarter came from K.J. Robertson, who turned a UTSA red zone threat later in the quarter into an interception and 61-yard return to the Roadrunners 37-yard line. Troy took advantage and took the lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Watson to RaJae’ Johnson with 2:43 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion pass to Clayton Ollendiek gave Troy a 15-12 lead.

Troy added to its advantage to 18-12 on a 27-yard field goal by Brooks Buice in the fourth quarter and then left it up to the defense. UTSA used a 53-yard run by Kevorian Barnes, with Dell Pettus saving the touchdown, to set up 1st-and-goal at the 5-yard line. UTSA gained two yards on a run and then threw three consecutive incompletions to end the threat.

UTSA got the ball back one more time, moving inside Troy territory on a 26-yard pass from Harris to Oscar Cardenas. Once again, though, Troy stiffened and an outstanding fourth down pass breakup by Reddy Steward ended the final threat.

“It feels good, man,” said senior defensive lineman Will Choloh. “You got to stay down until you come up, man, and we’re finally back up.”

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