There were a lot of headlines coming into the game between Troy and Middle Tennessee.
A rivalry trophy was up for grabs, a mentor facing off against his pupil and possibly a changing of the guards in the Sun Belt Conference.
However, when it was all said and done, the story remained the same as it has for the past four seasons.
The Trojans were able to jump out to an early lead and never looked back, exploding for 14 points in the first half in rout to beating the Blue Raiders 31-7.
The win puts the Trojans at 2-0 in conference play and in the process improving its overall record to 3-2.
“Whata great win,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said after the victory.
“I had no idea it would go that way. I thought we had a chance but I never say us winning like we did.”
The game didn’t start off the way most would have expected as the first quarter was dominated by both defenses.
The Trojans held the Blue Raiders to just 26 yards on 18 plays after the first 15 minutes.
MTSU and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin were not as lucky.
The Trojans, led by one of Franklin’s old assistants, Neal Brown, were able to move the ball late in the quarter, eventually scoring on a seven-yard run by running back Shawn Southward, which was also the first of his career.
As the half dwindled down, the Trojans were able to find the end zone one last time when quarterback Levi Brown was able to connect with wide receiver Chip Reeves for a 52-yard pass that put the Trojans up by two touchdowns and as it turned out, in the driver’s for the remainder of the game.
“Early on in the game, everyone was playing field position and luckily, we were able to get the best of it,” the coach said.
“We were able to score late in the second quarter and I think that momentum carried into the locker room and into the second half – those two touchdowns were big keys to the game,” Blakeney said.
The Trojans came back from the break and added to more quick scores thanks to the legs of backup quarterback Dantavious Parker, who finished the game rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
By the end of the third quarter, Troy was up 24-7.
“We wore down their defense with our running game, which was big,” Blakeney said.
“This was a big win against a strong rival. They have a good team over there and I think they still have a say in who the conference champion is going to be – luckily we are done with them.
“This is one of those games that makes Trojans everywhere smile,” Blakeney added with a smile.
Offensively, the Trojans finished the game with 455 total yards, 264 coming on the ground.
The defense held the rival Raiders to just 354.
“There were a lot of storylines coming into the game,” Brown said.
“Feels good to get our second conference win, feels good to win on national television – there are tons of reasons to be happy.”
Brown finished the game throwing for 191 yards on 18 of 32 passes and also threw for a touchdown.
“We were able to carry the momentum gained in the first half and use it in the second half. It changed everything,” the quarterback said.
Brown pointed out that a big reason the Trojans were able to get the victory was not because of the offense, but because of the defense.
“The defense was the story of the game. They were just phenomenal.
“I gotta give a lot of credit to coaches and the players for getting themselves ready for the game,” Brown added.