Golden Eagles stun Trojans

Published 12:36 am Monday, December 22, 2008

New Orleans – Michael McGhee blocked the Trojans’ chance at double overtime and the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss walked away from the Louisiana Superdome with a 30-27 overtime victory in the eighth annual R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Sunday night.

“No one was paying attention to me and I tried my best to get to the ball and I just leapt for it and got it,” McGhee said.

Britt Barefoot ricocheted a 39-yard field goal through the left upright for the 30-27 lead in the Golden Eagles’ possession in overtime and McGhee blocked Sam Glusman’s 28-yard attempt to give the Golden Eagles (7-6) the dramatic finish.

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“They hit a ricochet field goal for three and we get one blocked and that is about as close as you can get,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said.

The Trojans (8-5) held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Larry Fedora’s Golden Eagles found a way to win their fifth straight game and land their 15th straight winning season.

“I am so proud of the seniors on this team that held this team together when things weren’t going well when we were 2-6 and everyone had given up on us,” Fedora said.

Blakeney was not surprised at the tightness of the game.

“We knew this was going to be a close one,” Blakeney said. “I said last week whoever rushes it the best probably will end up winning the game and that is what happened.”

Southern Miss rushed for 146 yards compared to Troy’s 73. The teams were somewhat equal on passing yards with Southern Miss again out gaining Troy 276-255.

Micah Brown, starting left guard for the Golden Eagles and a Charles Henderson graduate, had reason to be happy Sunday night.

“It feels great to have won the game and it was a really exciting game,” Brown said. “I am just glad to get the win because now I have the bragging rights. Troy is a great team, but I am just happy we got the win against them.”

Golden Eagle quarterback Austin Davis went home with the New Orleans Bowl MVP trophy. He was 20-of-34 for 276 yards with two touchdowns. He gained 68 yards on the ground, but four sacks negated 23 of those yards.

He led the Golden Eagles to the final two scoring drives of the fourth quarter. He hit Jonathan Massey on a 35-yard pass with 7:20 remaining and led the team into field goal range before Britt Barefoot tied the game at 27-27 with a 46-yard field goal.

There were 30,197 people on hand to witness Jerrel Jernigan make history in the game Sunday. With his fifth catch of the evening, Jernigan recorded his 73rd reception of the season, which broke the school single season receptions record. Jernigan broke Danny Grant’s single record of 72 receptions set in 1968.

Jernigan had 9 catches for 65 yards and added his first rushing touchdown of the season.

Levi Brown led the Trojan air attack, connecting on 26-of-43 for 255 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked four times. Boris Lee led the defensive attack for the Trojans in the losing effort with 13 tackles and two sacks.

The Trojans struck first when Jorrick Calvin recovered a fumbled pitch and raced 17 yards for the game’s first points 50 seconds into the game. Glusman added the PAT for a 7-0 Troy lead.

“I felt like we needed to do something on defense to get it started,” Calvin said. “I saw the play coming towards me, I made the jump on the ball, picked it up and scored on the first drive.”

Southern Miss answered with a 64-yard bomb from quarterback Austin Davis to Gerald Baptiste less than a minute later on a flea flicker play. Barefoot added the PAT to tie the score at 7-7.

Troy drove 72 yards in 11 plays and took 3:58 off the clock near the end of the first quarter. Levi Brown found Kennard Burton in the back of the end zone and Glusman booted the PAT for a 14-7 Troy advantage.

With 14:25 left in the second quarter the Golden Eagles tied the score again on an eight-yard touchdown run from Damion Fletcher. Barefoot added the PAT to tie the score at 14-14.

The team’s swapped field goals before the break. Glusman hit on a 20-yard attempt and Barefoot had a 38-yarder as time expired.

Troy scored the only 10 points in the third quarter.

Glusman hit a 34-yard field goal with 4:34 to go in the third quarter. Jernigan scored on a six-yard quarterback option 2:30 later after Cornelius Williams set the Trojans up on the Golden Eagles’ 10-yard line with a 38-yard punt return.

On 4th and one in the middle of the fourth quarter the Golden Eagles hit pay dirt with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Jonathan Massey to cut the Troy lead to 27-24 after a true PAT from Barefoot.

Southern Miss stood tall on defense on the ensuing Trojan drive and held Troy to a three-and-out with 5:47 to play in the game.

Troy held Southern Miss to 47-yard field goal from Barefoot after two plays of 20-plus yards late in the fourth quarter. Barefoot connected on the try with 2:50 left in the game.

Barefoot hit from 39 yards out in overtime and McGhee blocked Glusman’s attempt for the Golden Eagle victory.