Sept. 9, 2004
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
TROY, Ala. (AP) - 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 night.
"We don't have to beat them 365 days," Trojans 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 pass 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 to visit Troy and were 0-6 against Big 12 teams. The fans stormed the field and pulled down a goal post as Missouri players slumped to the locker room.
"To me, this is the biggest win we've ever had," Blakeney said.
The Tigers (1-1) scored touchdowns on their first two possessions but not much else went right. Brad Smith passed for 224 yards and ran 15 times for 36 yards but was intercepted twice in the second half and was harried throughout the game.
"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.
"If I knew I would have corrected it immediately. We got stifled the rest of the game."
And Troy's Aaron Leak, who was only 7-of-20 with three interceptions, made the pass he needed to. He rolled left and hit a leaping Samples in the end zone 4 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).
Smith, whose Heisman Trophy candidacy was dealt a huge blow, then drove the Tigers to Troy's 30. The drive was snuffed out by a sack and a deflected pass, and Troy milked the clock below 6 minutes before punting.
Thomas Olmsted buried the Tigers inside the 5 for the second straight time, and Arthur Adams effectively ended their hopes with an interception.
Missouri committed three turnovers and had a punt blocked by Bernard Davis, looking like a different team than the one that built the 14-0 lead.
The Trojans used trickery and pure luck to take a stunning 17-14 halftime lead after failing to get a first down for the first 20 minutes. They had already 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-yard line on a punt. Two runs by DeWhitt Betterson got out of the hole and the ball was knocked out of his grasp on his third run, right into the hands of Louissaint.
The 277-pound guard caught it in mid-air and rambled the final 63 yards, dragging 190-pound cornerback A.J. Kincade into the end zone.
"I looked up and saw Junior running stride for stride and outrunning everybody," said Betterson, Louissaint's roommate. "That's a long way for a lineman to run."
Greg Whibbs hit a 43-yard field goal with 1:01 left for the halftime lead, and the momentum had changed hands for good.
"Ole Mo had really jumped on our caboose then," Blakeney said.
The Trojans had 8 yards in the first 20 minutes and 189 over the next 10.
"I could sense them getting frustrated," Davis said. "About the end of the second quarter you could feel they weren't used to the heat and the humidity and were tired out.
"They weren't running as fast. And we sensed that."
Smith, meanwhile, started out 13-of-14, but completed only one of his final six passes of the half. He finished 25-of-46.