It wasn’t pretty – far from it – but the Troy Trojans shook off the effects of last week’s humbling loss to Trotwood, and made enough big plays on both sides of the ball to stuff Xenia for their first win of the season.
For the Troy Trojans and the Xenia Buccaneers, however, that is exactly what last night’s GWOC crossover game was. A must.
Xenia entered the “Thursday Night Lights” affair at Troy Memorial Stadium having laid a large egg on opening night against Beavercreek. First year Xenia head coach Trace Smitherman missed the 35-6 loss while serving a one game suspension after getting ejected…from a SCRIMMAGE!
Troy’s loss was even more dramatic, a 48-0 beatdown at the hands of Trotwood that left the Trojans down on themselves because, as senior Zach Boyer put it,”we knew we were better than that.”
The Trojans were the ones who got the needed victory, overcoming a number of mistakes for a 28-6 win before a good Thursday night crowd (at least from Troy.)
“Hey, a win is a win,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher told his team immediately after the game. “We made some mistakes, but we kept fighting, and that’s what great teams do. They keep fighting. We are 1-0 this week and that is the only thing that matters.
“It was a short week. And sometimes you wish you had that extra day when preparing for that,” Burgbacher said, referring to Xenia’s triple option offense. “But it works both ways. They hadn’t seen our offense before, and we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Boyer helped the Trojans get off to a good start, returning an interception on Xenia’s second play to the Buccaneer 32 yard line. Junior Jaydon Culp-Bishop, starting in place of Shane Shoop, who was out with a concussion, raced through a gaping hole on the Trojans first play for Troy’s first score of the season.
Culp-Bishop finished with 67 yards on 16 carries.
“We talked to Jaydon this week,” said his coach. “We said hey, with Shane out, this is your chance. He knew he was definitely going to get some opportunities, and he had some nice runs for us.
“I thought our offensive line played well. Again, we had some breakdowns (Xenia had eight tackles for loss and sacked Coleman twice) but they did a fine job. That’s a good defense. They have some quickness up front, and overall, our kids handled that well.”
Boyer picked off another pass, this one in the end zone to end Xenia’s only threat of the first half. The Trojans cashed it in on their best drive of the night, 80 yards in 9 plays. Quarterback Sam Coleman hit Tucker Raskay for a 42 yard gain on the drive, then capped it off with an 11 yard scramble on what looked like a broken play fourth down on the final play of the first quarter to make it 14-0 Trojans.
“Some of our plays do look like broken plays,” Burgbacher said with a laugh. “That’s just kids making plays. That’s what we have to have to be successful.”
The Trojans struck again on fourth down late in the half. Coleman found Boyer on a slant across the middle, and he turned it into a 26 yard scoring play with 46 seconds left in the half.
“Last week’s game just brought us down,” Boyer, a 6-2, 183 pound senior, said. “We knew we had to come out and prove we were a better team than that. We took advantage of some early chances, and showed up.”
Boyer said the interceptions were similar, and simple.
“I just saw the ball coming and went and got it,” he said with a laugh.
“Everything changed as the week went along,” he explained. “The way we carried ourselves, the way coach coached, we were locked in all week. We knew we had to make amends for last week. It was haunting us.”
The Trojans were poised to put the game away with the opening possession of the second half, but Coleman’s first pass was picked off and returned to the Trojan 18. Buccs junior running back Sincere Wells put Xenia on the board on the next play, but the extra point was no good, leaving the Trojans up 15.
Xenia threatened to really make a game of it on their next possession. Starting at their own 26, the Buccaneers took full advantage of 3 15-yard penalties against the Trojans and marched to the Troy 5. On fourth and three, quarterback Jonny Shampton Jr threw a pitch ten feet over his running back’s head, and the Trojans recovered at their own 24.
“That was a big, big stop by our defense,” Burgbacher exclaimed. “If they score there, that could have completely changed the game around. They would have only been down a score and had all the momentum. That was a key play in the ballgame.
Troy capped off the scoring late in the fourth quarter when junior Sam Jackson scored on a 16 yard run. Jackson had a 28 yard run earlier in the drive and finished the night with 72 on just 6 carries.
Coleman, 6-3, 170 pound senior, had an up and down night. He completed 8 of 27 passes for 91 yards, with two interceptions and five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. But he did have the TD pass to Boyer and the scoring run.
“He’s still learning,” said his coach. “That was just his second game as quarterback. He had some good moments and some that weren’t so good. The speed of the game is a lot different on Thursday or Friday night than it is on Saturday morning. I thought he did well.”
Burgbacher said he was not worried about his team, despite last week’s lopsided result.
“Saturday morning when they came in, they were still down, they were disappointed because it means something to them. If they had come in laughing and joking, then I would have been worried. By Sunday, they were ready to move on, ready for the next challenge. We had three great days of practice, and if you would have seen us, you would have thought we won last week. They had great energy, and they were excited about being on TV. What 15 to 18 year old wouldn’t be excited about that?”
“We got a long way to go, but that’s exciting. I hate to use the “P” word, but this team has a lot of potential. What we need more than anything else is experience. They need reps, need to play. We’ll keep working to get better.”
Burgbacher said his team fed off the atmosphere in the stadium.
“This was a community win,” he acknowledged. “Our fans were great, our student body was great. Hey, they could have stayed home and watched UC Play tonight. They could have stayed home and watched the Buckeyes. But we had a good crowd tonight. It’s going to make going to school tomorrow a lot easier.
“We could have crumbled in the second half. We didn’t have a first down until the fourth quarter. But the kids just kept fighting and fighting. We proved tonight that we know how to handle adversity. We just have to keep working, keep working.”