Fresh start

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 28, 2009

The Troy Trojans opened Sun Belt Conference play with a win on the road against conference title contender, Arkansas State.

The Trojans were able to take a 30-27 lead late in the fourth quarter thanks to a Cornelius Williams touchdown.

After a forcing a Red Wolves’ turnover, Troy was able to run the clock out to assure the team a victory and to even its record to 2-2.

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“It was a great win for us,” head coach Larry Blakeney said at the team’s press conference yesterday, which was held at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel.

“If you look back at it, it was a game of runs – it went back and fourth in the second half.

“We were able to make some plays at the end [of the game] to run the clock out – I love that play where all we do is take a knee,” the coach said with a laugh.

The win was the Trojans third-in-a-row over ASU.

“It wasn’t a perfect game, but we played hard, especially on defense,” Blakeney said. “We weren’t flawless, but we got great effort and emotion from the team – if you don’t play with those elements, you are going to run into some problems.”

Now Troy goes from preparing for one conference contender to another.

“We still have work to do in all three phases of the games,” the coach said.

“This was a great win for us, but we are going to have to find a way to continue to win in this league. Middle Tennessee is going to be a tough game here – they will be highly motivated and well prepared.”

The next installment of the “Battle for the Palladium” will take place in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium next Tuesday as Middle Tennessee rolls into town.

In the all-time series, which goes back to 1936, the Blue Raiders lead 11-5 however Troy has won the last three meetings including the famous “Miracle in Murfreesboro” which took place in 2006.

“This is a game that has become more important since the Palladium Trophy was added – these games are always pretty dog-gone good,” Blakeney said. “This has developed into a pretty good rivalry.”

Adding to the rivalry for this season are two important factors, the return of former Troy offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN 2.

“You can’t replace national T.V.,” Blakeney said. “This is a great stage for the conference, the program’s and the university.

“Hopefully we will prepare well for [the game].”

Franklin was first brought in as the Trojan’s offensive coordinator in 2007 and was with the team for two seasons, before taking the same position at Auburn.

“Tony is a friend and a great football coach,” Blakeney said.

“It will be an interesting element for the people to watch. Both of our offenses are pretty similar and it won’t take long to figure that out.”

While at Troy, Franklin hired Neal Brown as the team’s wide receiver coach.

When Franklin left, Brown was called on to fill the vacant spot.

“It’s a game that people have looked forward to for a while – I don’t think it’s any different from any other game,” Brown said Monday afternoon at the press conference.

“It’s been two seasons since Tony has been gone so I am sure he changed some things up with the offense, just like I have changed some things up with it.

“It should be a good game,” he added.

The Trojans and the Blue Raiders will renew their rivalry on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.