Troy overpowers Ohio in New Orleans
Corey Robinson punctuated a formidable freshman season by helping Troy rewrite the New Orleans Bowl record books.
Robinson threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and Troy set a New Orleans Bowl scoring record with a 48-21 victory over Ohio on Saturday night.
"This year, I think Corey's biggest attribute is, he's made mistakes, but he's profited and learned from those mistakes," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said.
Robinson completed 23-of-29 passes for 285 yards and four TDs in the first half alone, when Troy (8-5) raced to a 38-7 lead, and was 32 of 42 overall. While Robinson was chosen the game's MVP, he was quick to credit his experienced receivers, who made Ohio regret trying to cover them man-to-man.
Tebiarus Gill had a New Orleans Bowl-record three touchdowns, all on receptions in the first half. Fellow senior Jerrel Jernigan had seven catches for 48 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown.
"They liked to man up on us and I liked our matchups with Jerrel and Tebiarus," Robinson said. "They're big-play guys, they're both seniors and I felt like they went out and made some really big plays tonight for me and made me look good. I'm really happy to have them tonight. It's a sad day they're leaving."
Troy finished with 602 offensive yards — also a New Orleans Bowl record.
The Trojans had a 371-39 advantage in offensive yards through the first two quarters, by which time it was apparent Ohio (8-5) was going to drop to 0-5 in its bowl history.
"It's clear that we had trouble controlling them from the very start in terms of what they're all about offensively," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "They pretty much threw at will. They made plays after the catch. That eventually opened up the ground game for them. ... That's not what you look for in terms of trying to keep people from putting points on the board."
So dominant were the Trojans that they didn't punt until the fourth quarter and even outrushed Ohio, which runs a variation of the option Solich used when he was at Nebraska from 1998-2003. Troy finished with 220 yards on the ground while the Bobcats had 99.
Troy's Dujuan Harris ran for 105 yards and a score.
The Trojans have won or shared the past five Sun Belt Conference titles and are 2-3 in bowl games since becoming a full member of the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2002. Both wins came at the New Orleans Bowl, where the Trojans have played three times.
Before the game, Trojans players expressed hope that a second bowl victory on national television might bring them a little more recognition.
At the very least, fans across the country saw that the Trojans have a quarterback with the potential to rack up a lot of yards by the time his college career is done.
Robinson connected four times with Gill for 80 yards and four times with Jason Bruce for 59 yards.
Robinson finished his freshman campaign with 3,726 yards and 28 TDs.
The Bobcats, who were second in the Mid-American Conference's East Division, came in knowing they'd be in trouble if they didn't play well on defense and control the ball on offense. They struggled on both counts.
"Offensively we did not handle their defensive front nearly well enough," Solich said. "We did get a little bit of passing game going but without the ground game to control the game a little bit ... and keep them off the field offensively, it's kind of what we needed to do and not what we were able to do."
The Bobcats' Boo Jackson passed for 209 yards and three TDs, but he did not start after missing some recent practices to clear up some academic matters.
Solich started Phil Bates, whose first pass was intercepted deep down the sideline by Jimmie Anderson. Troy then marched 78 yards in 10 plays, with Jernigan scoring on a 12-yard run out of the wildcat formation to make it 7-0.
Jackson entered the game during Ohio's second offensive season and completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Steven Goulet to tie it at 7.
Troy went back in front when Robinson lofted a 31-yard timing pass down the left sideline to Gill.
Jernigan capped Troy's next series with a 16-yard TD catch on which the receiver took a short pass near the 10 and dodged left three tacklers.
Michael Taylor's New Orleans Bowl-record 50-yard field goal nudged Troy's lead up to 24-7.
Gill's 17-yard TD catch made it 31-7, marking the first time a team had scored that many points in a half of any of the 10 New Orleans Bowls.
Troy wasn't done, though. The third Robinson-to-Gill TD connection, covering 26 yards, came in the final minute of the second quarter.