Former Trojans flourish in playoffs

Published 9:29 pm Monday, January 16, 2012

Three former Troy Trojans played a key role in the New York Giants stunning 37-20 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers over the weekend.

Osi Umenyiora, Jerrel Jernigan and Lawrence Tynes, all former Trojans, helped the Giants advance to the NFC Conference Finals.

“We are mighty proud of them,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “They were super players for us and are all contributing at the next level for New York.”

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Umenyiora, a two-time All-American at Troy and a two-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, finished with two tackles in the game and forced a fumble early in the second half when he dislodged the ball from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ hands. The Giants would recover deep in their own territory to end the Packer threat.

Umenyiora’s performance came as no surprise to Blakeney.

“The bigger the game, the better he plays,” he said.

Umenyiora played just nine games during the regular season for the Giants due to preseason knee surgery and a high ankle sprain. He recorded 25 tackles and nine sacks in 2011.

Tynes, who nailed a game-winning 47-yard field goal in the 2007-2008 NFC Championship game, connected on three field goal attempts against the Packers. Tynes’ kick four years ago in overtime came to be known as “Tynes’ Redeemer” after the now 33-year-old missed on two earlier attempts.

Tynes is currently 19 of 24 in his attempts this season with a season long 50-yard field goal against the Packers on Dec. 4.

Jernigan, who lined up as the Giants return man, didn’t have a return opportunity.

“He didn’t get much of a chance in that game,” Blakeney said. “But he could do something special before it’s all over.”

Blakeney said he will rooting for the Giants to win the Super Bowl this season and has been in touch with his former players throughout the season.

Blakeney felt that all three had an opportunity to play at the next level early on in their Troy careers.

“We thought they all had a chance to move on and play,” he said. “It’s been exciting to watch them do as well as they have.”

New York will travel to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLVI. The game will be televised on FOX with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.