Troy claims fifth-straight conference title

Published 7:14 pm Monday, December 6, 2010

The ‘Drive for Five’ is complete. The Troy Trojans, once again, find themselves on top of the Sun Belt Conference.

And as a reward, the Men of Troy will be going to their ‘home away from home’ in the postseason – the Superdome.

Thanks to a dominating 44-7 victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday afternoon, the Trojans finished the regular season with a 7-5 overall record.

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However, the celebration did not fully begin until the several hours later, when Middle Tennessee upset FIU on the road, and in the process helped the Trojans clinch a share of the conference championship, for the fifth year in a row.

“It worked out to the T for us,” head coach Larry Blakeney said at the team’s press conference Monday afternoon. “It was the best scenario that could have happened for us.

“The kids deserved this. They really rose to the occasion the last two weeks. All through the season, they were resilient. The main thing (going into Saturday’s game) was we had to do our job and the cards fell perfectly. I told the guys, the season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We had to deal with our measure of issues, but we got the prize in our hands, we got the opportunity to go to the New Orleans Bowl.”

Now, for the third time in five seasons, the Trojans will be making the trek to New Orleans.

Troy holds a 1-1 record in the previous two games, defeating Rice for its first ever bowl victory in 2006, and losing to Southern Miss in overtime back in 2008.

“We are all certainly excited to be playing in the Superdome,” Blakeney said.

“It’s one of those places that is a great place for football. And New Orleans is a great place to see some things you don’t see anywhere else. I hope that we have the largest gathering of Troy fans ever for this game. All I heard from everybody was ‘New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans’, we are going, so it’s time for the fans to put up or shut up,” the coach laughed.

The bowl game marks the fifth postseason appearance in seven years for the Trojans.

Unlike last season, when Troy had to wait over a month between the season finale and its bowl game, the Trojans will be back in action almost immediately as it will battle the Ohio University Bobcats on Dec. 18, which is less than two weeks away. Even though that does not leave a lot of time for preparation, that is not something the players worried about.

“I think the team is playing great right now,” quarterback Corey Robinson said. “So, I think playing again soon is something that is going to help us.

“This has been a tough year to say the least, but I think some of those losses have helped us out and made us grow. The last two weeks have been huge confidence builders for this team and hopefully, we can keep that going.”

In the last two games, Robinson has returned to early season form, throwing for 628 yards and five touchdowns.

But while the Troy offense had another big day against the Owls, finishing with 483 total yards, it was the Trojan defense that again played a huge role.

In the last six quarters, the defense has allowed just seven points while forcing four turnovers.

“The past two weeks have really showed what this defense is made off,” defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi said. “The past two weeks have been very important. And for us to come together like we have says a lot. A lot of credit goes the guys around me and even more credit goes to the coaching staff for the job they have done.”