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Trojans tame FIU

Jerrel Jernigan did just about everything he could Saturday night in the Troy Trojans’ 33-23 victory over the FIU Golden Panthers in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.

The sophomore caught the second Trojan touchdown of the game from Levi Brown, rushed for 89 yards and even did his best Tim Tebow impression on a touchdown pass.

Jernigan caught a strike from Brown and scampered 86 yards to pay dirt and he knew once he caught it he would score.

“It is a play we had practiced all week and the defense blitzed the linebackers so it turned to a man coverage and after that it was off to the races,” Jernigan said.

With starter Jamie Hampton lost for the season to a knee injury, the Trojans had named Brown the starter at quarterback, but Jernigan spelled Brown at times and even got a touchdown pass out of the situation.

“The coaches had been joking with me in practice about how if it was not there just tuck it and run it,” Jernigan said. “But I told them I was going to throw a touchdown pass in the and they didn’t believe me.”

The pass was a two-yard jump pass to Justin Bray.

“The jump is just something I do to make it look better I guess,” Jernigan said. “It wasn’t a drawn up play, but it made it look good.”

Jernigan piled up 221 yards of total offense on the evening with 89 rushing yards, 131 yards receiving and 2 passing yards.

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney was glad to get the ball to his playmaker.

“The yards Jerrel was able to produce running it, catching it and throwing it was a good thing for us,” Blakeney said. “He has learned how to play without the ball, but he is a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands. He can run it and outstretch the pursuit.”

Brown had a night of his own, going 18-of-28 for 253 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, but he was not happy about how he got in there.

“This definitely isn’t how I wanted it to play out, but with that said it did feel great to be in there and I was excited and looking forward to it all week,” Brown said.

Brown said team chemistry and working together as a team is what allowed the Trojans to operate the offensive system without the initial starting quarterback.

“I think it goes back to being a team,” he said. “Everybody on our team has confidence whether it’s me or Jamie or Tanner or Jerrel or Dan or whoever is in. They have seen us all play in practice and we have great continuity as a team.”

Troy jumped out to an early 13-0 lead behind Jernigan’s 86-yard touchdown and a 15-yard laser to Cornelius Williams on the opening drive of the game.

FIU scored a safety on a snap that went over Brown’s head through the end zone after the Panthers pinned Troy on their own 4-yard line.

The Panthers scored a touchdown on their next drive to close the Troy gap to 13-9 with 4:36 remaining in the first quarter. Panther quarterback Paul McCall connected with wide out Junior Mertle on an eight-yard pass for the score.

Sam Glusman remained perfect on field goals in 2008 with his 10th field goal of the season, a 20-yard attempt, to put Troy up by a touchdown at 16-9 with 1:35 left in the first quarter. Glusman connected on 44-yard field goal with 3:58 to go in the half for a 19-9 Troy lead.

Right before the end of the half FIU cut into the lead again, as Daunte Owens rushed in from 1 yard out for the touchdown. Troy entered halftime leading 19-16.

But Cameron Sheffield pumped up the momentum for Troy on the opening drive of the second half. Sheffield sacked McCall, forced a fumble and fell on the ball at the FIU 17-yard line.

“Basically I bull rushed the tackle and after I got the corner I guessed where the ball was at and swiped at it,” Sheffield said. “Fortunately the ball just happened to come to me and I just fell on it.”

Sheffield was in the backfield a lot, compiling eight total tackles, three for a loss and two sacks.

Blakeney knows what can happen when the momentum is in a team’s favor.

“That momentum stuff is real,” he said. “When Old Mo jumps in your pocket it gives you a lift, and when it climbs on the other side of the ball it is a downer.”

Jernigan hit Bray in the corner of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown and a 26-19 lead after a true PAT from Glusman.

Dantavious Parker rushed in on a quarterback sneak from one yard out for a 33-16 lead and FIU tacked on one more score when McCall hooked up with Jeremy Dickens with 9:27 to play in the game.

Troy heads to North Texas for another conference game next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Click here for a gallery of Saturday’s action