Bring on ‘Bama and Auburn

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2001

Sports Columnist


That was the battle cry last Saturday afternoon in Starkville, Miss., as Troy State beat Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi Stat, 21-9.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It was not even close. The Trojans scored 21 first half points to lead all the way over a Bulldog team that was picked preseason to finish among the nation’s top ten.

Mississippi State, considered the most physical football team in the SEC year in and year out, were beaten physically by the Trojans.

Some people were trying to find reasons why TSU won the game. One man mentioned that the rain was the reason MSU lost the game, that State doesn’t play well in the rain. My reply to him was that it rained on the Trojans as well, but when we got 21 points up we didn’t feel the rain, our team felt a big victory in their grasp.

Of course, after Demontray Carter’s 40-yard touchdown reception gave the Trojans an early 7-0 lead the siren went off and the whole stadium emptied and stayed that way for one hour and 10 minutes. It gave our Trojans a time to take a well needed rest, but at the same time, it gave MSU over an hour to try and figure out how to stop TSU.

The attitude of the Troy State fans I talked with during the time out was one of great confidence. In fact, many Bulldogs’ fans took it the house as they knew what the outcome was going to be.

When play resumed it looked like we were playing on a small lake instead of grass.

The Bulldogs’ came out with revenge on their minds, moving the ball to the Trojans’ 30-yard line. The next play called by MSU was an out pattern to a back out of the backfield. TSU’s was to rush the passer. When Bulldog quarterback Wayne Madkin dropped back to pass, Shelton Felton was in his face. His pass was intercepted by the Trojans’ Rayshun Reed, who sloshed his way 73 yards for a touchdown.

The Trojans scored its third touchdown of the quarter after Heyward Skipper returned the MSU punt to the Bulldogs’ 40. On the next play Carter runs up the middle for 14 and a first down at the Bulldog 26. Two play’s later Carter zig-zagged his way 23-yards for the touchdown. To everyone’s amazement, except the young men in the white jerseys, it’s TSU 21, Mississippi State 0.

It was pretty much easy sailing after that, thanks to a TSU defensive effort, that in my 40 years of watching the Trojans, has known no equal.

Coach Wayne Bolt’s "Deadbolt" defense just shut down the Bulldogs, giving up just three points in the last 30 minutes of the game.

Just I like predicted in my column last week, that if Osi Umenyioria, Vernon Marable, Jose Gamboa and Davern Williams play well up front on defense, and our offensive line protects the passer, the Trojans will win. They did just that and the Trojans shocked the world.

Two guys that really stood out to me on defense, besides those guys up front, were linebacker Corey Sears of Montgomery and defensive back Freeman White of Birmingham. Sears was in on over 15 tackles and White had an interception and several passes broken up.

It was a huge team effort to beat an SEC team on the road, but the Trojans did it.

I thought TSU quarterback Brock Nutter played the smartest game of his career.

Troy State’s clock management, directed by offensive coordinator John Shannon, had to have given MSU’s coaching staff fits. Most of the Trojans’ offensive plays started with just one or two seconds left on the play clock. Shannon’s play calling kept the Bulldogs off balance the entire day.

The Trojans’ offensive line, under Greg Atkins, played superbly, giving up only one sack on the day and that was on a play when the Trojans had a quarterback draw called.

As I sat there soaking wet in those final seconds of the game, I couldn’t help but think about how people would be reacting to this big victory back in Troy and the rest of the state. This was a big victory, a really, big victory, for our football program.

I could see TSU faithful wanting to dance in the streets and holler as loud as they could, "We are Troy State!"

When the score hit Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn there was an ovation so loud you couldn’t even here yourself talk a friend of mine said.

The huge Troy State following at Scott Field emptied the stands when the final whistle blew as the Trojan players and coaches came over to pay tribute to their fans. It was a time in Troy State sports history that I will savor for years to come.

Larry Blakeney and his team have done what few people thought possible and that was beat a good Mississippi State team in Starkville.

All week long I’ve heard news about the victory from TSU fans, Alabama fans, Auburn fans, Tennessee fans, Georgia fans, and even Mississippi State fans.

One friend of mine even suggested that Troy State could play with Alabama, and maybe even Auburn and Florida.

I thought his suggestion was fine and I know he meant well, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no maybe’s about it. Troy State can play with Auburn and Alabama right now. We played well against Nebraska, holding them to their lowest total yardage of the season, we played well with Miami in the Orange Bowl, holding their All-American running back Clinton Portis to just 18 yards rushing and their team to 106 yards rushing.

The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in America and we might be able to play with Auburn. Mighty Auburn! TSU is not even a full fledged Division 1-A program until next year and we’ve already got Alabama and Auburn fans feeling defensive. Don’t worry guys. The Auburn’s and Alabama’s are not going to play TSU yet. Auburn’s going to play mighty Louisiana-Monroe for the next two years for $500,000 per game.

Troy State’s win is proof of the parity that exists in college football today.

You Auburn and Alabama guys are just going to have to accept it; there’s a new kid on the block in Division1-A football in the State of Alabama and it just happens to be your hometown university. Troy State is good and believe you me, they are good enough to stand tall against either the Tide or the Tigers. They’ve proven that already.

Yes, Troy State will soon, if not already, be the state’s third best football program. Be proud of them!

Big game this weekend at the stadium against Cal-State Northridge. 2 p.m. kickoff. Come early and stay late and enjoy the excitement of Troy State football.

Go Trojans!