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Donovan Fletcher attempts to tackle a Troy receiver during Ohio's 48-21 loss to Troy during the New Orleans Bowl. (Alex Goodlett/Staff Photographer)

Ohio loses to Troy in R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

NEW ORLEANS - As Boo Jackson entered the post-game newsroom, he threw a towel over his face for a few seconds. After removing it, tears and sweat dripped down his face as he tried to comprehend what had happened.

The Troy Trojans’ pass-heavy offense proved too much for Ohio, and the Bobcats’ offense never found momentum in a 48-21 loss in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Saturday night in the Superdome

Troy quarterback Corey Robinson finished with a New Orleans Bowl record 387 passing yards, 285 of which came in the first half in which Troy jumped to a 38-7 lead.

“It was clear that we had trouble controlling them from the start in terms of what they had offensively,” coach Frank Solich said. “They pretty much threw at will.”

Phil Bates’ interception on the second play of the game forecasted the ensuing disaster. From there, Robinson looked like Drew Brees, the dominant New Orleans Saints quarterback, as he thrashed Ohio’s defense with quick strikes to his receivers

Troy scored on every possession in the first half, and its first eight of the game. After Boo Jackson connected with a wide-open Steven Goulet for a 34-yard touchdown pass, the men of Troy thrashed their opposition like the real Trojans did thousands of years ago.

With the way Troy receivers Tebiarus Gill and Jerrel Jernigan blazed through the Bobcat secondary, it looked as if the Ohio defense missed the flight to New Orleans. Gill finished the night with 80 yards and three touchdowns. His diving second quarter touchdown summed up the game.

“It wasn’t necessarily like we were caught off guard,” safety Donovan Fletcher said about the defense. “I don’t know right now. I’m trying to figure it out. Their speed was good, but we practiced at a high-pace the last couple of weeks.”

After splitting the Bobcat secondary with ease and breaking two tackles, Gill fought through a host of Ohio defenders on the 2-yard line. The receiver lunged forward, stretching his arm just enough to break the plane and make the game 30-7.

“We were not able to control their speed just lining up and playing man to man,” Solich said. “We eventually went to more zone and they did a great job of throwing the ball underneath the zone a little bit. That helped them make big plays.”

Following a Paul Hershey punt, Gill accelerated through a gigantic hole. Usual stalwart safeties Donovan Fletcher and Steven Jackson were nowhere to be found as Gill sprinted toward the end zone. His score made the game 38-7, effectively sealing the game before the teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime.

“At their pace, we had a lot of guys getting tired,” Fletcher said. “That’s when we started messing up plays. The execution really started to fade after that.”

After beginning the season 8-3, Ohio’s year took a turn for the worst in the final two games. Kent State dominated the team in the 28-6 defeat that cost the Bobcats a chance at the Mid-American Conference championship. Troy’s thrashing of Ohio sealed the sour end to the year.

Despite the finish, Solich said the program took great strides, but the team needs to take the next step by winning a bowl game after it stumbled the last two years.

With Jackson and the other 21 seniors playing their last Ohio snaps, the quarterback talked about how great this season was, despite the way it ended.

“We definitely had a great season,” Jackson said. “We started out 1-3 and no one expected us to come back. For us to turn it around like we did, making a bowl game and stuff like that, it’s something I’ll never forget.”

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