Cardinal wins

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2003

The Troy State football team brought an unofficial close to its spring football practice (two more practice dates are left, Monday and Wednesday) on Saturday with the T-Day game.

Troy State split the teams with most of the starters on the Cardinal team, and the results were to be expected. Incumbent starting quarterback Hansell Bearden threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinal defeated the White 30-0.

"We sputtered at times on offense," Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney said. "We were sporadic procedure wise and execution wise. That led to some inconsistencies."

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The talent difference was obvious as the Cardinal outgained the White 305-52 in the game. The Cardinal scored on its first three possessions to take a 24-0 lead at the half.

Bearden threw two touchdowns in the first half, a 13-yarder to Jason Samples and a 27-yarder to Toris Rutledge, and Rutledge returned a punt 45 yards for a score. Thomas Olmsted added a 25-yard field goal as well.

Bearden, clearly still the No. 1 quarterback in the Trojan rotation, played the entire game for the Cardinal team. Franco Johnson, Kacson Maddox, Josh Russell and Bragg Knott split playing time for the White.

"This year, everyone is on the same page," Bearden said. "Last year, the receivers had a lot of reads and I had to try to guess what they were going to do. This year, I know where everyone is going to be."

Samples caught a second touchdown in the second half and finished the day catching five passes for 73 yards and two scores. He also rushed once for nine yards.

Rutledge caught four passes for 27 yards and a score and had 85 yards in returns. In addition to his 45-yard punt return, he also returned the opening kickoff 40 yards before being tackled by kicker Matt Munyon.

Rutledge's punt return did not draw as much praise for him as it did frustration at the punter from Blakeney.

"Once again we proved you can't just kick the ball wherever you want," Blakeney said. "I think Jason Wright was punting and he put it right down the middle of the field. Toris Rutledge took it back for a score. Then the next time he punted, he put it where he should have and we tackled the punt returned without giving up a return."

The Trojan special teams reminded fans of last season's struggles in the third quarter following Samples' second touchdown. Olmsted's extra-point attempt was blocked by White team defenders.

The Cardinal defense overwhelmed the White offense. White quarterbacks completed only eight-of-18 passes for 72 yards and were "sacked" 11 times. Since quarterbacks wore the green jerseys, other players were not allowed to hit them. Defenders had only to tag the quarterbacks to record the sack.

Much-ballyhooed transfer junior Franco Johnson participated in only five series, completing two of his five attempts for 20 yards.

"I should have played better, but I was playing at a slight disadvantage," Johnson said. "I thought I was going to play more. Originally, Kacson (Maddox) was supposed to be on the other team, but (Blakeney) changed it."

Troy State will practice Monday and Wednesday before breaking until the fall. The Trojans open the season Aug. 30 on the road at Kansas State. The Trojans' first home game is set for Sept. 20 against Southeastern Louisiana.