TSU takes first Division 1-A

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2001

win against Mississippi St.


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STARKVILLE, Miss. – A washed out playing field.

A one hour and fifteen minute delay due to a tornado warning.

And a one-year removed Division 1-AA football team that no one in the nation really believed in.

Perhaps it was fitting then, that it was in this type of atmosphere in which Troy State won its first victory over a Division 1-A opponent. The Trojans upset Mississippi State on Saturday, 21-9, and they did it on the Bulldogs’ homecoming.

A rather large contingency of TSU supporters sat in the corner of the west endzone and shouted, "It’s great to be a Troy State Trojan," as time quickly ran out on the favored Bulldogs. Trojan players ran onto the field to celebrate when the final quarter expired and head coach Larry Blakeney went over and acknowledged the fans with a tip of his hat.

"I wanted to give them something," said Blakeney about the fans. "Our people made a long trip over here to watch us play and I appreciate it. We’ve got a lot of folks who’ve been behind us from the start and hopefully after today, we got a few more."

The big story of the day was the Troy State defense. Coordinator Wayne Bolt’s defense kept pressure on State quarterback Wayne Madkin all day, sacking the senior four times, and creating opportunities for the Trojan secondary.

Junior defensive back Rayshun Reed used one of those opportunities to return an interception of a Madkin pass 73-yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to put the Trojans’ up 14-0. Reed’s interception came just as play had resumed, following the tornado warning delay and when State appeared to be driving for a score.

TSU’s Demontray Carter scored the first touchdown of the game with 12:36 left in the second on a 40-yard catch and run from quarterback Brock Nutter. Drew Boetler added the extra point just as the City of Starkville’s warning siren began to sound.

Carter added the Trojans’ final score of the game, also in the second, on a 23-yard run. The play was set up by Heyward Skipper 35-yard punt return to the MSU 35. The junior appeared to be trapped along the sideline, but broke tackle after tackle to set the Trojans up in scoring position.

"I just looked up and saw daylight and I thought I was going to score," said Skipper.

"He (Skipper) and Demontray are both that type of guys," said Blakeney. "They’re able to reach inside and find something. If you see that they’re slacking off a bit, all you have to do is tell them and they’re able to pick it up just like that."

Skipper finished with 46 yards on four catches and 80 return yards, while Carter had 99 all-purpose for the Trojans.

State scored just before halftime when Madkin found Justin Jenkins behind the TSU secondary for a 22-yard touchdown. The PAT was no good,

After a ten minute intermission, shortened due to the delay earlier, the Troy State defense stepped up.

MSU drove to the Trojans’ 10, but could only manage a John Marlin 24-yard field goal with 3:11 left in the third.

The Trojans gave State a chance to get back in the ballgame following Marlin’s field goal.

Fullback Chris Cox was ruled to have fumbled the football on a catch from Nutter and the Bulldogs recovered at the TSU 11. But the defense rose to the occasion, dropping Madkin on fourth down and goal when the latter tried to flip the ball to his fullback.

The defense came through again on State’s next series.

The Bulldogs recovered a Troy State fumble on a punt return and set up at midfield. But Madkin lost the ball on a snap and linebacker Ben Waldrop recovered for TSU.

"This was our day," said Blakeney. "We talked over the summer about earning some respect. If you work hard, recruit well and play with your heart, then you can win no matter where you are. It doesn’t matter if you are in Troy, Alabama…you can compete."

The loss for Mississippi State was its fourth in four outings, a favorite to win the SEC’s Western Division Championship prior to the beginning of the season.

"Leadership is part of the problem, possibly," said MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill. "But first you have to congratulate Troy State. They did an excellent job today and they did what they came to do."