Trojans set new records

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

The effects of Tropical Storm Hannah dumped heavy rains on Memorial Stadium as the Troy State offense went to its ground game on Saturday night. The decision led to record-breaking results.

Three Trojan running backs rushed for 100 yards for the first time in school history, helping TSU pile up a school-record 464 yards rushing and pull away for a 40-15 win over Division I-AA foe Southern Utah.

The Trojans (1-2) trailed 7-0 in the first quarter but rallied with five rushing touchdowns and a pair of Thomas Olmsted field goals to pull away for their 16th consecutive regular-season home victory before a crowd of 15,288.

&uot;I challenged our guys this week,&uot; Troy State Head Coach Larry Blakeney said. &uot;Our kids played really hard. We gave up some yards early, but they responded nicely.&uot;

Freshman running back Marrio Fraser led the way for the Trojans offensively, rushing for 124 yards

and a touchdown on 17 carries. DeWhitt Betterson added 120 yards on seven carries and LeBarron Black earned 100 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

Quarterback Hansell Bearden added 99 yards rushing on five carries, losing seven yards on his final offensive play of the game in the third quarter - Southern Utah’s only sack of the game.

&uot;We did a nice job tonight,&uot; Blakeney said of the team’s running game. &uot;With all of our changing with the two tight ends and zone set-up, the running game is working well. We are blocking up on the right blockers, and tonight wasn’t the best night to be slinging the ball around.&uot;

And for all of the offensive fireworks, the Troy State defense did its part as well, allowing only 169 yards total offense to the Thunderbirds (1-1). In the second half, SUU managed just 54 total yards and only added their final touchdown after a special teams turnover by Troy State in the waning moments.

Southern Utah opened the scoring in the first quarter, taking advantage of a Troy State fumble to grab a 7-0 lead. The Thunderbirds marched 44 yards on seven plays, capping it off with a two-yard run by quarterback Dustin Randolph.

The Trojans answered two drives later with a nine-play, 67-yard march to tie the game on a six-yard run by Black.

Freshman wide receiver Toris Rutledge then put the Trojans in front, scrambling in from 23 yards out on an end-around play to cap a 10-play, 98-yard drive with 6:27 to play before halftime.

Bearden added to the total one drive later, scrambling loose for a 63-yard score. The scoring run was the longest for a Troy State quarterback since Jeremy Rowell also scored from 63 yards out in 1995. The touchdown, Bearden’s first this season, gave TSU a 21-7 lead with 2:03 to play before the half.

From there, the Trojans took control, putting the game out of reach with a pair of long scoring drives. A pair of Thomas Olmsted field goals, from 43 and 37 yards, capped two drives, while a six-yard Black run capped the other. Fraser then added an 11-yard run to end the scoring for Troy State.

Southern Utah added its final touchdown with eight seconds to play on a one-yard run by Chuck Henderson. The Thunderbirds took over at the Troy State 22-yard line following a Heyward Skipper fumble on a punt return.

Henderson, who came into the game in the second half following an injury to starter Dustin Randolph, led the Thunderbirds with 45 yards rushing on 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 10 yards as a wide receiver.

Troy State did record eight fumbles, which helped keep Southern Utah in the game early. TSU lost four, two of which set up touchdowns.

Troy State now hits the road against a pair of Big 12 opponents in the next two weeks, playing Iowa State in Ames next Saturday at 6 p.m. and then Missouri in Columbia on Sept. 28.