Troy aims to spear Falcons in opener

Published 12:19 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

For the 101st season, there will be a football team playing for Troy’s honor.

While the name of both the team and the school itself may have changed during that century, one thing has not – a winning mentality.

Today, the Trojans will look to continue that mindset against a foe it has been waiting to play again for a year, Bowling Green.

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It was in last season’s opener where Troy went into Ohio to face the Falcons at home and returned to Troy with a 17-point loss.

Now, head coach Larry Blakeney and the rest of the Trojans are looking to even the score.

“We traveled an awful long way to get whipped,” Blakeney said about the first meeting between the two teams.

“Hopefully, (the loss) was used to help better prepare the guys for this game and the season – hopefully it was motivation in camp.

“If you revert back to last year, had we won that game, it may have given us a chance to get another win or two,” the coach added. “But that loss left a pretty bad taste in our mouths.”

In that 31-14 loss, the Falcons were able to best the Trojans in several different offensive categories including total yards, 389 to 304, and first downs, 21-14.

With the game tied at 14 heading into the fourth quarter, BGSU was able to hang 17 unanswered points on Troy to cruise to the win.

A big part of the BGSU win was thanks to now former wide receiver Freddie Barnes, who finished with 15 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

As for the Trojans, it will be looking to add to its 64-24-2 record in home season openers today and will also be looking to give Blakeney his 20th career home opening win.

In all, the Trojans have not lost a home opening game since 1986.

While there will be many new starters on the field hoping to make an impact, none may be as important as the ones behind center.

Quarterbacks Jamie Hampton and Corey Robinson will both be taking snaps this evening, according to Blakeney, although the coach did not specify who would start the game.

For Hampton, leading a high-powered offense will be nothing new, as the Cedar Bluff native was named the starting quarterback back in 2008.

Hampton threw for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in five games before suffering a season ending knew injury against Florida Atlantic.

He finished with a 3-2 record, with losses against Oklahoma State and Ohio State.

As for Robinson, the 2008 Troy recruit and former Mr. Football of Kentucky, will be seeing his first action as a Trojan.

In his senior season at Lone Oak High School back in 2007, Robinson finished with a state-record of 5,872 yards and a national-record of 91 touchdowns.

“Jamie is more seasoned,” Blakeney said.

“Both guys have great leadership skills and both have done a great job for us so far.

“Whoever is the No. 1 guy will get his chance to take the position, as will the No. 2 guy. We aren’t trying to destroy anyone’s confidence – we are going to give them the time they need to get into a rhythm,” the coach added.

One of the key returning starters for Troy will, like the quarterbacks, be taking the field with the offense.

As he enters his senior year, Jerrel Jernigan will look to add to his already sterling career.

With 178 receptions and 2,306 yards, the multi-talented receiver needs just 52 receptions and 413 yards to set new league records in both categories.

“It’s going to feel good to play someone other than the guys on (Troy),” Jernigan said about the opening game.

“We are definitely going into this game with a different mindset than we did last year. We want revenge.”

Troy and Bowling Green will get underway at Veterans Memorial Stadium tonight at 6 p.m.