LINCOLN, Neb. -- 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, when they finished 1-9 under Bill Jennings. Nebraska also has dropped six straight home games since beating Rutgers on Sept. 23, 2017.
The Trojans (2-1), from the Sun Belt Conference, took down a Power 5 opponent for the second straight year, and pocketed a $1.15 million check from the Huskers for making the trip. Last year, Troy won at then-No. 25 LSU, earning $985,000 for beating the Tigers on their homecoming.
As he ran off the field at Memorial Stadium, a jubilant quarterback Kaleb Barker had a game ball tucked under his arm.
"They said, 'It's yours,'" Barker said. "I'll take it."
Actually, a host of Trojans could lay claim to that ball. Cedarius Rookard ran back a punt 58 yards for a touchdown, Smith scored two touchdowns and ran for a team-high 70 yards and linebacker Tron Folsom had 14 tackles, a sack and another tackle for loss.
"I thought we showed tremendous grit and determination," Troy coach Neal Brown said. "We didn't play great football as we went through the game. But I thought our kids played really at a high level special teams-wise. I thought our defense bent but they didn't break. I thought we flew to the ball and tackled better than we have at any point this season. Offensively, we just found some ways to make some key plays."
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 Bunch's pass along the sideline intended for JD Spielman, starting the celebration on the Troy bench.
"I think we're a better team than what the results say we are, but that doesn't matter," Frost said. "I just got done telling the team that when things get tough like this, you got two choices: You fight back and work even harder or you give up. I told them if anybody doesn't want to stay on for this ride, let me know and get off, because I know where this is going. We just haven't had the results early that we need."
Now the Huskers will play their Big Ten opener on the road against Michigan next Saturday.
"We have a tough game next week, so this could get worse before it gets better," Frost said. "It's always darkest before the dawn, and I know where this is going, so I want every guy in that locker room to be on board."
Troy got out to a 17-0 lead and was up 17-7 at halftime. 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, they went 62 yards in 10 plays to make it a two-score game. Barker converted two third-and-long situations, 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.
"I want to say this to the Nebraska fans: You guys are going to be fine," Brown said. "They're going to get it done here. They're going to win and they're going to win big. But I don't want the narrative to be about that."
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. ... As a comparison, Frost was 24-2 in two years as the starting quarterback for Nebraska. Now he's 0-2 as a coach.
Troy visits Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Nebraska visits Michigan for its Big Ten opener Saturday.
ESPN's Darren Rovell and ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.
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