JSU’s Martin making history this year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Sports Editor

Jacksonville State’s placekicker Ashley Martin made history in the Gamecocks’ first game against Cumberland.

Martin became the first female player to participate in an NCAA football game by going 3-for-3 on extra point attempts in JSU’s 72-10 opening season win.

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Martin’s historic boot made the national news and even earned the junior, who also plays soccer, a brief appearance on ABC’s Live With Regis and Kelly.

She didn’t appear again until last week when she became the first woman to compete in a Southland Football League contest, kicking her fourth extra point of the year in the Gamecocks’ 55-30 loss to Sam Houston State.

TSU head coach Larry Blakeney may get a good look at Martin when the Gamecocks come to Troy on Saturday.

But Blakeney hopes he doesn’t and says JSU’s lady kicker hasn’t been the main topic of discussion around Tine Davis Field House.

"If we don’t let them score we won’t have to worry about her," said Blakeney. "We haven’t talked about it and we probably won’t talk about it. I’m not against women now, you know. I’ve got a wife and three girls…I like them. But I don’t think a football field is a place for a young lady or a woman. Now if she can kick and win a job against her competition, she should be on the field to play."

However, Blakeney admits concern should the situation arise where the kick is blocked or the snap from center fumbled.

Martin stands 5-11 and weighs 160 pounds. The Trojans’ average 270 pounds across the defensive front.

"I would be concerned if something went awry on a PAT or on field goal and she (Martin) became a contact player other then somebody kicking a ball ," Blakeney said. "I would be concerned for her physically. That’s just the gentleman in me. But I hope she gets to watch a good game and we win it."

Both the Trojans and the Gamecocks enter this 62nd meeting between the two programs with identical records. The last time that happened was in 1998, when TSU went to Jacksonville and both teams were 7-3 and fighting for a lone spot in the Class 1-AA playoffs. Troy State won handily 31-7.

The Trojans’ offense is coming off of its biggest output of the year last week at Louisiana-Monroe. Troy’s ‘Trojan Spread’ attack totalled 525 yards, including a 218 yard effort on the ground, another season high.

"I talked to the kids about running the ball effectively," said Blakeney. "We needed to run the ball enough to make them (ULM) respect the run. It was definitely a game that we can build on and get more confidence."

The Trojans were equally effective through the air. Brock Nutter was 21-of-31 and threw for 268 yards. Junior Heyward Skipper, who has led the Trojans in receiving yards and catches seven out of nine games this season, hauled in seven receptions for 169 yards.

"Brock did a nice job of spreading the ball around," said Skipper. "Everyone was ready to do their part and we had the most complete running and passing game of the year."