MURFREESBORO, TN (KPLC) - The McNeese State football team kicked off the 2012 season on a winning note, defeating Middle Tennessee State 27-21 Saturday night at Floyd Stadium.
2009 was the last time the Pokes hoisted up a Southland conference trophy, but it seems like a long time coming to a team that's won six titles since 2001 and garnered more than any other in the league.
Thursday night in Murfreesboro, TN, the Pokes washed away the memories from last year's 6-5 season and began their quest for a 14th conference championship.
"We've been waiting on this for three weeks, it's been the longest three weeks I've ever had I think, you know getting ready to go. People are just ready I think to do their part, whether that be special teams or defense, offense, people just pinch in and do their job."
It comes with the territory, but junior quarterback Cody Stroud carries a weight on his shoulders, but there's a calm about him this time around. More work put in the month of August as he leads the Pokes offense for the second straight season.
"I think the biggest improvement in Cody right now is his mental preparation towards the game. I'm really excited about spring and about August camp how much extra time he's put in and how well prepared he's been for the practices and grasping the offense."
The Blue Raiders were coming off a two win season, but the Pokes were only 2-12 against FBS schools since 2000.
"Well every team has great players at every level and no one should be put to the side no matter what division. I think we got a great group of guys, our chemistry is really good right now, that's all you can ask for this time of year."
With those words, McNeese predicted what would be a great start to the new season.
Just a few of the highlights:
-- Cody Stroud to Darius Carey, and that lead to a McNeese touchdown and a 7-6 Cowboys lead.
-- Stroud shook off an injury and returned to the game, he scrambled and found the endzone to give McNeese 14-6 at the half.
The Cowboys got 298 yards rushing on the night, opening the 2012 campaign with a big win on the road - their third ever win against an FBS team, beating the blue blazes out of the Blue Raiders, 27-21.