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Troy in Sun Belt driver's seat

10/6/2010

Troy completed dominated Middle Tennessee in its 42-13 win Tuesday night, putting itself in the driver's seat in the Sun Belt race.

What else is new?

The Trojans (3-2, 2-0 Sun Belt) have now beaten the Blue Raiders (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) five straight times, and have won 12 straight Sun Belt games. They are going for their fifth straight conference title.

This season was supposed to be Middle Tennessee's year, but things have not gone exactly to plan. Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher was suspended for the first four games of the season for improperly accepting a $1,500 loan. He made his return Tuesday night, but it was one to forget on a "Black Out" night in Murfreesboro.

“That is really important. They were picked No.1 in the Sun Belt, but I think it was more of a 'clear out' than a 'black out,'" Troy receiver Tebiarus Gill said.

Dasher dislocated the pinkie finger on his left hand on the second drive of the game and missed the rest of the first quarter. When he returned, Middle Tennessee was down 14-0. The Blue Raiders could not muster anything on offense, even with Dasher back. He looked rusty and out of sorts, and so did his teammates.

They had just 82 yards of total offense in the first half and ended the game with 207, including just 28 on the ground in the face of an attacking Troy defense. Dasher, who passed for 2,500 yards and ran for 1,000 yards last season, had 14 carries for a team-high 27 yards and went 22-of-37 for 172 yards.

He has traditionally struggled against Troy, and Tuesday night was no exception. Dasher was also sacked four times.

“We spent all week focusing on Dasher because we knew he was going to be a big key to their offense," said Troy linebacker Jacoby Thomas, who had two sacks. "We came in here wanting to go after him with blitzes and we blitzed him all night."

Meanwhile, Troy quarterback Corey Robinson continued to excel, going 26-of-37 for 259 yards with three touchdowns. Jerrel Jernigan, who was limited with an elbow injury, still had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. He also became the Sun Belt's all-time leading receiver with 2,730 yards, passing North Texas’ Johnny Quinn.

One bit of bad news for Troy: Backup quarterback Jamie Hampton is out for the season after breaking his leg. Hampton was injured on an 8-yard carry in the second quarter and will undergo surgery Wednesday. He has played in every game as a change of pace to Robinson, but coach Larry Blakeney fears his career could be over.