Vidal, Troy beat App State to win second straight Sun Belt title

Vidal, Troy win second straight Sun Belt title 2023, beating App State 49-23

— Kimani Vidal and Troy’s defense combined to run away with another title in the fourth quarter.

Vidal rushed for 233 yards and five touchdowns and Troy scored twice in a six-second span of a monster fourth quarter in a 49-23 victory Saturday over Appalachian State for the Trojans’ second straight Sun Belt Conference title.

Troy (11-2) produced a lopsided win in the league championship game after a 1-2 start for the second season in a row. This one was up for grabs until Vidal’s 2-yard touchdown followed swiftly by Don Callis’s strip-sack and touchdown that made it 35-17 lead with 10:51 left in a rain-soaked game.

Vidal and Troy weren’t done by a long shot. The Sun Belt offensive player of the year sandwiched scores of 6 and 49 yards around another strip-sack — this one by Javon Solomon, who also made the fumble recovery — over the final five minutes of the Trojans’ 28-point fourth quarter.

Vidal recorded the most TD rushes by a player in an FBS league championship game.

The Trojans ran away with their 10th straight win and fans needed only a few minutes to pull down one of the goalposts, with students ultimately hauling both out of the stadium. They have claimed Sun Belt titles in each of Sumrall’s first two seasons.

The Mountaineers (8-5) lined up to go for it on fourth down from their 48 to open the final quarter. They were forced to punt after a false start penalty.

Troy ran 10 straight times and Vidal got his third score. The league’s top defense then delivered.

Only six seconds ticked off the clock before Callis knocked the ball away from quarterback Joey Aguilar and returned it 10 yards to the end zone.

Appalachian State had overcome a 3-4 start to win five straight and make the title game.

It was the first meeting since the Mountaineers’ 32-28 win early last season on a final-play Hail Mary. Troy is 22-2 since then.