Turnovers, big plays highlight Trojans victory over UAB

Published 4:41 pm Saturday, September 1, 2012

Birmingham, Ala. – Shawn Southward rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns to catapult Troy (1-0) to a 39-29 victory over UAB (0-1) at Legion Field.

Southward’s set new career marks in rushing yards, carries (28) and is now fourth on Troy’s all-time career rushing touchdowns list.

“I feel tired, I’m a little sore,” Southward said. “That’s the first time getting that many carries so I enjoyed it.”

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It was obvious from the start that the Trojans planned to pound the ball on the ground and take chances deep. Quarterback Corey Robinson heaved the long ball twice in his first three pass attempts.

“That was the game plan,” said receiver Chip Reeves. “We knew we were going to get a lot a man coverage and have a chance to go over the top.”

Reeves, who was playing his first game since 2010 after being ruled academically ineligible last season, benefited from the Trojans plan of attack as the senior hauled in six passes for 125 yards.

After UAB failed to convert on a fourth down attempt on the game’s opening drive, Troy took over in good field position at the Blazers 45. Southwards first carry went for 19 yards then another for four setting the Trojans up for a 44-yard Will Scott field goal to open the scoring, 3-0.

The teams would trade punts until Jacoby Thomas recovered a fumble inside the UAB 40 with 3:51 to go in the opening quarter. Troy chipped away on the ground with Southward and Justin Albert, who finished the game with 50 yards. Southward capped the drive with a 1-yard push to give the Trojans a 10-0 advantage.

Troy extended its lead to 17-0 just three minutes into the second quarter when Robinson hit Reeves streaking down the Troy sideline for a 55-yard strike.

“That is the real Chip Reeves and he is back,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “He’s in a great frame of mind. I’ve coached a few guys that could run deep and you know they’re going deep and you can’t do anything about it.”

As is past two contests between these schools, UAB did not go away quietly. Blazer receiver Jackie Williams, who caught the Hail Mary on the final play of the game to beat Troy in 2010, caught a Jonathan Perry pass and raced 43 yards but fumbled at the 2-yard line. Seldom-used linebacker De’Von Terry recovered for the Trojans.

Terry also intercepted a pass at a critical time in the fourth quarter.

Troy marched 96 yards but turned the ball over themselves near their opponents end zone. UAB wasted no time taking advantage of their new-found life. Perry hit Williams again for 47 yards and four plays later connected with Greg Williams for a 21-yard score to cut the Trojans led to 17-7.

The in-state rivals went back and forth until with 7:25 in the fourth quarter and Troy’s lead trimmed to two, 25-23, Robinson led the Trojans on a two-play, 69-yard drive to the end zone. A 44-yard completion to Reeves set up a 25-yard scoring completion to B.J. Chitty to builds Troy’s lead to 32-23.

Robinson completed 12 of 21 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Troy racked up 453 yards of total offense including 262 on the ground but were penalized 11 times for 107 yards.

Each team would score again in the final frame to cap the scoring.

“It has been a tight series with close games,” Blakeney said. “I’m proud of the win and proud of the way our guys fought and handled themselves.”

Troy will host Louisiana-Lafayette next week in each team’s conference opener. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.