TSU defense forces six turnovers in win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 11, 2001

MONROE, La. ­ The Troy State football team had been waiting nearly three months for a day when it could let its hair down and have a little fun.

That day finally arrived on Saturday.

Behind an offensive attack that was sometimes slowed, but rarely stopped, the Trojans jumped out to a big lead early and cruised in the second half to post a 44-12 win over Division I-A Louisiana-Monroe at Malone Stadium.

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Brock Nutter completed 21-of-31 passes for 268 yards, and Jason Samples and Heyward Skipper each recorded 100 yards receiving, as the Trojans won their second road game of the season and improved to 5-4 overall. The Trojan defense was just as impressive, allowing only 216 total yards while forcing six turnovers.

"We needed to get a win like this," Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney said. "After getting whipped like we did last week (against Maryland), we needed to come out and make some plays early and make some positive things happen. We did a lot of good things tonight."

The "Trojan Spread" offense had its most productive day of the season, rolling up 525 total yards, including a season-high 218 yards rushing. Senior Demontray Carter rushed for 81 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown and had three catches for 20 yards and another score. Most importantly, the Trojans kept the ball for 39:42 and recorded 89 offensive plays to ULM’s 49.

The decimation began early for Troy State, which rolled up 200 yards total offense and raced out to a 23-6 lead in the first quarter.

They wasted little time in opening the scoring, marching 62 yards on their opening possession to take a 3-0 lead on Drew Boteler’s 22-yard field goal.

Following a ULM punt, the Trojans went to their bag of tricks and extended their lead further when Samples took the pitch on an end-around play, pulled up, and found a streaking Skipper in the end zone for a 9-0 lead. The point-after attempt failed.

Louisiana-Monroe answered quickly, marching 73 yards behind a pair of big connections from quarterback Andre Vige to Brooks Greer (31 and 28 yards) to slice into the deficit. Vige found Mack Vincent on a 25-yard scoring pass to cap the six-play drive. The Indians’ point-after attempt also failed, however, keeping the score 9-6.

From there, the Trojans exploded for two more quick scores to forge ahead, 23-6, the first on an 8-yard fumble return by David Philyaw and the other on an 18-yard scoring pass from Nutter to Carter.

Neither team could muster much offensively in the second quarter, with the Trojans managing just 42 yards total offense. The Indians finally broke through with less than a minute remaining when Mikkal Henry returned a punt 53 yards to slice into the Troy State lead. A 2-point try failed, keeping the score 23-12 at halftime.

Troy State put the game away in the second half, scoring on its first two possessions on an 10-yard run by Carter and then on a 35-yard strike from Nutter to Skipper, to forge ahead 37-12. A 15-yard end-around run by Chris Day capped the day’s scoring with 9:30 to play to account for the final margin.

The Indians managed just three first downs and 58 yards over the final two quarters and never penetrated the Troy State end of the field.

"We had been waiting for a game where we got a big lead, and we finally got it," senior lineabacker Jimmy McClain said. "It was nice to be able to finally laugh and have a little fun on the sidelines in the fourth quarter."

Samples finished with a career-high seven catches for 104 yard with a touchdown, while Skipper had six catches for 134 yards and a score.

Troy State returns to action next Saturday at home against archrival Jacksonville State. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. at Richard M. Scrushy Field at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by Comcast Charter Sports Southeast.