What might have been if Appalachian State hadn’t completed the Hail Mary to beat Troy early in the season?

Troy coach Jon Sumrall said he’s fielded that question a few times. His answer probably is a bit unexpected.

“I’m like, ‘We might have lost some other games,’” Sumrall said. “That loss might have helped us learn how to win. Now, I want to win every game. I’m not happy about losing, ever. But there’s a lot to learn in different situations.”

Take away that game, which Troy found a way to lose, and the Trojans have been spectacular in close games. The last four games were decided by a score or less. Troy won all four. The Trojans also had an earlier one-score win at Western Kentucky.

The Trojans are so good at pulling out close wins that Sumrall was in a joking mood at halftime last Saturday when Army took a 9-0 lead into the locker room.

“I told them, ‘Hey look, we’re actually one point ahead of where we were on the scoreboard against Louisiana Lafayette,’” Sumrall said. “The guys kind of chuckled. I was like, ‘Hey, we were down 10-0 last week, at least we only got to come back from 9-0 this week.’ It’s going to be a little bit easier, maybe.”

In the five one-score wins, Troy outscored its opponents, 64-27, in the second half. Against Louisiana two weeks ago, when the Trojans were down 10-0 at the half, they won 23-17. Last week, the 9-0 first-half deficit to Army turned into a 10-9 Troy win.

“I just feel like it comes down to coaching,” said Troy defensive end Antonio Showers. “Our coaches are really great at making adjustments. Seeing things in first half and giving us an opportunity to go out there and change the game. The players, as well, do a good job adjusting. We come out and respond in a good way. We never give up. We always come back harder and stay fighting and do our best to grind out the win, no matter how ugly or pretty it may look.”

Sumrall said the approach started back in winter conditioning and other off-season work.

“I believe, through the offseason stuff we’ve done with our team, from team building, building chemistry, culture building, our team cares deeply about each other and fights for each other,” Sumrall said. “I think our guys continue to compete to the bitter end.”

Another factor is one close win turned into another, making the next one easier to accomplish. It started in the Western Kentucky game, when backup quarterback Jarret Doege came off the bench to throw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Troy is at a point now, where the players feel like they will find a way no matter what.

“When you can overcome the adversity, maybe at times, or maybe fight through a close game and find a way to win, it creates a little bit of confidence the next time you’re there,” Sumrall said. “I’m very proud of the young men on our team for continuing to compete and find ways to get wins in tough situations.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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