Legion Field stunner for Trojans
Birmingham – In the latest installment of the in-state rivalry between the Trojans and the Blazers of UAB, the team in cardinal and white dominated Legion Field for the first 30 minutes of the game, moving the ball at will.
In the end, it was the closing second of the game that made all the difference.
Despite a 23-point lead at one point, the Trojans were unable to stop a second-half Blazer surge and lost 34-33. The final blow came on a 99-yard drive with under a minute remaining that culminated with a last second UAB Hail Mary catch in the end zone.
Even though the catch was reviewed, with the official confirming the call on the field, video evidence was inconclusive, as Blazer wide receiver Jacki Williams was shown a yard short of the end zone.
“On the replay, it looked like (Williams) had the ball on the one-foot yard line,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I don’t know what the officials saw when they reviewed the play.”
As for the rest of the game, the coach compared it to a bad dream.
“We could see (the game) headed towards where it ended up.
“We have had some tough times in this locker room – this is a bitter pill to swallow, I can promise you that,” the coach said.
This was the Trojans’ first trip to Birmingham since 2006, when Troy again left Legion Field on the losing end of a 21-3 final.
The win was the Blazers’ first of the season, and fourth in its series against Troy.
“You got to give (UAB) a lot of credit, they played hard,” Blakeney added.
The loss drops Troy to 1-2 on the early season, with Sun Belt play beginning next week.
The Trojans got off to a fast start offensively thanks to the play of quarterback Corey Robinson.
The red shirt freshman led Troy on four scoring drives in the first two quarters, two of which were touchdown passes to Chip Reeves for 79 yards and Jason Bruce for 15 yards, to give his team a 23-0 lead.
A late second quarter Blazer touchdown cut the Trojan lead to 16 at the half.
In the new half, UAB continued its pursuit, adding another touchdown. However, a Michael Taylor field goal kept the Trojans up by 13 points at 26-20.
In the fourth quarter, the Blazer offense was nearly unstoppable, as it outscored the Trojans 21-7.
“There are a lot of things I would like to say, but can’t,” a visibly angry Robinson said following the game. “Not going to blame it on anyone – we did everything we could do.
“We got beat by more than just UAB today,” he added.
Robinson finished the game completing 26 of 44 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite two back-to-back devastating road losses, the quarterback said he is not worried about the team’s morale headed into conference play.
“I’m not worried at all,” he said. “We are a family.
“But we’ve got to come together.”
Aiding UAB’s attack was the same thing that helped out the Oklahoma State Cowboys comeback performance the previous week – Troy penalties and turnovers.
The Trojans were flagged 15 times for 119 yards and fumbled twice.
UAB was called for three penalties for just 38 yards.
Yet, in the end, the only thing that mattered was the final call on the field.
“This was a tough loss,” wide receiver Jerrele Jernigan said. “Personally, I thought (Williams) was short (of the end zone).”
The senior finished with five catches for 48 yards in his final appearance against the Blazers.
“We got a good lead on them early, and I think towards the end of the game, (the players) got conservative – and UAB kept fighting,” he said.
A player who was on the field when the final catch was made was defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, who called the loss to the rivals a “slap in the face.”
“We should have dominated this game,” he said. “When it came down to it, the team that wanted it more won it. Everyone of us needs to go home, look ourselves in the mirror and find out if we want to do what it is going to take to help this team win.”
On the UAB touchdown reception, Massaquoi said “it was one of those plays that you hold your breath on.”
“My first thought was ‘slap it away’,” he said.
In all, the Trojan offense tallied up 566 yards, compared to the Blazers’ 535.
“Hats off to UAB,” Blakeney said. “They played well.
“I am always worried this time of year. I’m real concerned about this football team. We can’t quite get over the hump and get enough people well on the offensive line to be as good as we could be.
“We are just not hitting on all cylinders right now,” the coach added.
Troy will open its 2010 Sun Belt season at home next week against Arkansas State.