By Times Staff Writer
Published September 10, 2004
TROY, Ala. - Wide receivers throwing touchdown passes. Offensive linemen scoring. A blocked punt.
Troy used gadgets, luck and guts to rally from a horrible start and upset No. 19 Missouri 24-14 Thursday.
"We don't have to beat them 365 days," coach Larry Blakeney said. "We just have to beat them for one 60-minute segment of history. For that one 60 minutes, Troy was better than Missouri."
Jason Samples threw one touchdown and caught another and offensive lineman Junior Louissaint scored on a 63-yard fumble recovery for Troy (2-0). The Trojans, a fourth-year Division I-A program, had never hosted a BCS conference team and were 0-6 against Big 12 teams.
The Tigers (1-1) scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Brad Smith passed for 224 yards and ran 15 times for 36 yards but was intercepted twice in the second half.
"I don't know if I've ever been involved in a game like this before," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We moved the ball very well in the first quarter. Did we lose focus? I don't know."
Troy's Aaron Leak, who was 7-of-20 with three interceptions, made the pass he needed to. He rolled left and hit a leaping Samples in the end zone four minutes into the fourth quarter. Leak lay on the turf for a minute after taking a hard hit on the play, then got up and waved his arms to the crowd, the largest in school history (26,574).
Missouri committed three turnovers and had a punt blocked by Bernard Davis. The Trojans used trickery and pure luck to take a 17-14 halftime lead after failing to get a first down the first 20 minutes. They already had pulled off a road upset at Marshall.
Down two touchdowns, Leak lateraled to Samples, who floated a pass to wide-open tailback Jermaine Richardson in the end zone for a 26-yard score midway through the second quarter.
Missouri buried the Trojans at the 7 on a punt. Two runs by DeWhitt Betterson got the Trojans out of the hole and the ball was knocked out of his grasp on his third run into the hands of Louissaint. The 277-pound guard caught it in midair and rambled the final 63 yards, dragging 190-pound cornerback A.J. Kincade into the end zone.
AIR FORCE: Coach Fisher DeBerry, in his 21st season, agreed to a five-year extension. The 66-year-old has a 156-89-1 career record and has been at the academy longer than any coach.
UCONN: Coach Randy Edsall, in his sixth season with the Huskies, has a new contract worth $5.3-million over six years. The 46-year-old will earn just under $900,000 annually, up from about $200,000 per year.
LSU: Coach Nick Saban, angered by a TV poll about which quarterback (Marcus Randall or JaMarcus Russell) he should start against Arkansas State, said he no longer will discuss that situation. Earlier in the week, Saban said he expected both to play in Saturday night's game.
TENNESSEE: The school is appealing the $10,000 fine the SEC imposed after coach Phillip Fulmer did not attend media days. Fulmer was advised by his attorneys not to go to Birmingham, Ala., in July for the annual news conferences to avoid the possibility of being subpoenaed by attorneys who allege Fulmer conspired with the NCAA to bring down the Alabama football program. The next step in the appeals process is a hearing with the SEC executive committee, which next meets on Oct. 11 by conference call.
Around the state
FLORIDA: With a team that is as healthy as a coach could hope for heading into a season opener, Ron Zook will take the Gators into their game against Eastern Michigan on Saturday more concerned about the number of players than specific starters.
Several positions in the Florida lineup are up for grabs. Most notable is cornerback, where Dee Webb, Reynaldo Hill and Vernell Brown are battling for the two starting spots.
"Probably Reynaldo and Dee are going to start," Zook said. "But (Brown) is going to play a lot."
And while the one who doesn't get the starting nod will see considerable playing time, a No. 4 corner may have emerged in DeShawn Carter, Zook said.
USF: For a month, sophomore Tavarious Robinson and senior Craig Kobel have been battling for a starting position at defensive end. On Thursday, USF coach Jim Leavitt offered a twist: Both will start in Saturday's season opener against Tennessee Tech.
One will shift to right end, where walkon Jon Simmons, a Clearwater Central Catholic grad, had been listed as the starter ahead of junior Terrence Royal of Wharton. Simmons and Royal will enter Saturday's game as backups. Leavitt said they might not be the first off the bench, noting the progress of redshirt freshman Eric Thomas.
Junior D'Juan Brown has secured one of the starting cornerback spots, while redshirt freshmen Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins are too close to call at the other cornerback. Leavitt identified four freshmen - receivers Johnny Peyton and Jackie Chambers, running back Andre Copeland and safety Danny Verpaele - who will dress and likely play. Offensive linemen Jake Griffin and Marc Dile, both top backups on the depth chart, aren't expected to dress.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Tech had two starting offensive lineman injured in last week's win against Gardner-Webb. Left guard Kyle Rivers later returned and is expected to play, but center Brandon Waters did not return and is listed as "probable" with a shoulder injury.
Times staff writer Greg Auman and correspondent Brian Shaffer contributed to this report.