|Shawn Southward dives for his first of three touchdowns / Associated Press|
Here is my game story from Troy's win over UAB, to be found in the print edition of the Dothan Eagle as well on Sunday. It's on dothaneagle.com HERE. Box score is HERE.
BY DREW CHAMPLIN | firstname.lastname@example.org
BIRMINGHAM – Troy came to Birmingham wearing shirts that said “Unfinished Business.”
Saturday against UAB, the Trojans showed that they’re out to avenge last season’s 3-9 record. Troy raced out to a big lead, absorbed some punches from UAB and left Legion Field with a season-opening 39-29 win.
Troy recovered three UAB fumbles and had a key interception, and held its ground when things could have gone bad. The Trojans nearly lost a 17-0 first-half lead, but held its ground in a game where the Blazers chipped into the lead, but were never able to tie the game.
The Trojans allowed UAB to recover an onside kick to start the second half, lost a fumble inside the UAB 5 and lost a third-quarter fumble at its own 23-yard line, but rebound there to hold the Blazers to just a field goal and maintained a 19-17 lead.
“It’s easy to get really low when something bad happens in a game,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I could feel my stomach drop out of the bottom of my pants. It worries you sick and sometimes in a football game, stuff happens.
“You’ve got to fight your way back and respond and make something else happen.”
Troy senior running back Shawn Southward had a career-high 28 carries for 210 yards and three touchdowns, one short of a career high. It was Southward that lost the third quarter fumble, but Troy’s defense held the Blazers to a fumble. On his next carry, he raced for a career-best 55 yards, which set up his 7-yard touchdown run with 1:22 left in the third quarter for a 25-17 lead.
“There’s no griping on each other this year,” Troy quarterback Corey Robinson said. “I said, ‘Let’s go Shawn, we’re about to get it back because our defense is really good this year. We’re about to get it back, so let’s go out there and do it again.’
“He did and he busted off that 55-yarder. He had a really good day today.”
Early in the fourth quarter, UAB came back and scored on a 1-yard run from quarterback Jonathan Perry, but the 2-point try failed and the score remained 25-23. The Trojans made two big defensive plays in the fourth quarter.
With 7:25 left, senior De’Von Terry intercepted a Perry pass at Troy’s 31-yard line. It took two plays – a 44-yard pass from Robinson to Chip Reeves and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to B.J. Chitty – to extend the lead to 32-23.
Troy then forced a fumble on UAB’s first play of the next drive as Tyler Roberts hit Perry and Tony Davis recovered at the UAB 13. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Southward scored his third touchdown on a 5-yard run.
UAB added a late score on Perry’s 24-yard strike to Jamarcus Nelson, but it was too little, too late.
“When most people look at this film, anybody that watches this game will see that we’re hungry,” Troy linebacker Kanorris Davis said. “We took a lot of punches from the referees and from the UAB players, but we came back out and we kept our composure. Coaches told us that it wasn’t going to be an easy game.
“We were looking for a competitive game. We got what we asked for and we came out on top.”
Both teams lost fumbles inside the 5-yard line. UAB’s Jackie Williams lost one in the second quarter that Terry recovered. After that, Troy’s Robinson lost one with the Trojans up 17-0. It led to UAB’s first touchdown, a 21-yard pass from Perry to Greg Franklin, with 34 seconds left in the first half.
UAB successfully recovered an onside kick to start the second half and made the score 17-14 on Dontavius Jackson’s 9-yard run. Troy took a 19-14 lead with 5:15 left in the third when a high punt snap went out of the end zone.
Troy scored early in the first on Will Scott’s 44-yard field goal. The Trojans’ Jacoby Thomas recovered a muffed UAB punt late in the first quarter, setting up a 1-yard run by Southward. Troy went ahead 17-0 early in the second on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Chip Reeves.
Robinson hit 12-of-21 passes for 184 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Troy was certainly able to take UAB’s best shot and roll with it. The Trojans (1-0) host UL-Lafayette in a Sun Belt game next Saturday at 6 p.m.
“Coaches were preaching to us that it would take four quarters,” Reeves said. “It took four quarters and we were ready for it.”
But, like the t-shirts said, there is still plenty of business left to finish in a long season.
“It was so uplifting,” Robinson said. “I’ve never heard the fight song sung so loud in the locker room. Our coaches were ecstatic. We’re ready to get back to work. This is a hungry football team and we’re ready for our conference opener next week.”
11:52 Troy 3, UAB 0: Will Scott 44-yard FG
1:19 Troy 10, UAB 0: Shawn Southward 1-yard run (Scott PAT)
12:08 Troy 17, UAB 0: Chip Reeves 55 pass from Corey Robinson (Scott PAT)
0:34 Troy 17, UAB 7: Greg Franklin 21 pass from Jonathan Perry (Ty Long PAT)
13:31 Troy 17, UAB 14: Dontavius Jackson 9 run (Long PAT)
5:15 Troy 19, UAB 14: Team safety, snap out of the end zone
2:20 Troy 19, UAB 17: Long 27 FG
1:22 Troy 25, UAB 17: Southward 7 run (PAT blocked)
12:15 Troy 25, UAB 23: Perry 1 run (pass failed)
6:53 Troy 32, UAB 23: B.J. Chitty 25 pass from Robinson (Scott PAT)
6:29 Troy 39, UAB 23: Southward 5 run (Scott PAT)
3:45 Troy 39, UAB 29: Jamarcus Nelson 24 pass from Perry (pass failed)