Sidney struggled, and Troy had a lot to do with it. Troy answered its early-season critics and continued its late-season surge with a resounding win over the state’s #4-ranked Sidney Yellow Jackets.
Sidney – You can excuse Troy High School running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop for the hyperbole in describing his 99-yard touchdown moments after an emotional win against Sidney on Friday night. What can’t be overstated, though, is the Trojans’ dominating effort on defense against one of the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s best offenses.
The defense did its part with three fumble recoveries – including one for a touchdown – and two interceptions. Culp-Bishop’s did his with a school-record tying 99-yard blast up the middle midway through the third quarter.
A massive hole created by offensive linemen Gage Forsythe, Drew Smith, Rase Darrow, Kam Block and Nathan Garber greeted Culp-Bishop. He sprinted through untouched and didn’t stop until Troy led 34-7 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
“The hole was wide open. I could see sunshine,” said Culp-Bishop, who ran for 245 yards on 32 carries. “I could see angels and Heaven. It was just Heaven. I ran for it and it was exciting. It was wide open.”
Troy’s coaches challenged Culp-Bishop to win the rushing battle against Sidney’s Isaiah Bowser, who entered Friday averaging 271 yards per game and 1,900 yards on the season. He did it with one run, nearly doubling Bowser’s effort with his 99-yarder.
Bowser, bottled up by an aggressive Trojans defense, finished with 68 yards on 22 carries. Troy (6-2, 3-0 GWOC) held Bowser to 51 yards on 26 carries in last season’s 31-6 win.
“We just had to be patient,” Troy linebacker Shane Shoop said. “He was pretty smooth with his moves. We just had to wrap up. We couldn’t give him room to make moves so we just got to the ball.”
And then some. Prior to Friday night Bowser’s season low was 186 yards on 38 carries against Piqua.
“I think they might have come in a little overconfident being 7-0,” Troy defensive back Sam Jackson said. “I want to give them credit. They are a great team with phenomenal athletes. In practice we really work on swarming to the ball and that’s what we did tonight.”
John Wehrkamp, Zach Boyer and Shoop all recovered fumbles for the Trojans. Shoop’s came with the Yellow Jackets pinned deep in their territory early in the fourth quarter. Joah Schricker stripped the ball from Andre Gordon, Sidney’s scrambling quarterback, and Shoop pounced on it for the 41-14 lead.
Earlier in the game Shoop followed his blocks, including the decisive one from Kobe Feltner to break him loose, for a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that made it 27-7.
Jackson and Derek McDonagh intercepted passes and Garrett Jones blocked a punt in Troy’s best game defensively.
“That’s one of the best defenses we’ve seen in awhile – last year and this year,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “This is a really well coached team. They give you different looks moving guys around and in the end their kids made phenomenal plays.”
Sidney (7-1, 2-1 GWOC) struggled early with a couple uncharacteristic miscues. A couple bobbled hand offs and a dropped pass that could have resulted in a 77-yard touchdown contributed to the Yellow Jackets struggles. They entered the game averaging a GWOC-best 499 yards per game. They finished unofficially with 330.
Gordon completed 17-of-36 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 66 yards.
“We stressed get off to a fast start. You fall behind early and that pressure just mounts,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We thought if we could get out to an early lead they might start pressing a little bit because they want that undefeated season. A complete team effort.”
“Maybe we pressed a little bit. I’d have to go back and watch the film,” Doenges said. “It’s pretty uncharacteristic of us but it happened. We’ll work hard and get better.”
Sidney started 7-0 for the first time since 1974. And the Yellow Jackets’ last league title came back in 1970. Despite falling a game behind Troy in the GWOC American North Division, there’s still plenty left for the Yellow Jackets to play for. They remained No. 4 in the Division II, Region 8 computer points. The top eight teams from each region qualify for the postseason.
“Our backs are against the wall. It’s important to see how our kids respond to this,” Doenges said. “It could get ugly real quick if our kids fold, but I don’t think our kids will. We’ve got some good senior leadership and our kids will bounce back. They hurt right now because they care. In the end we lost to a better football team tonight.”
Troy, meanwhile, leaped from No. 9 to No. 5 in the Region 8 computer points. They also hold the lead in the league title chase with two games left – Greenville next week and Piqua in Week 10. Not bad for a team that was sitting 1-2 at one point this season.
“We all heard it. It was a rebuilding year for Troy,” Burgbacher said of the critics. “We were at a crossroads. Were we going to listen to that or were we going to do something about that? To put this game together tonight against on of the best opponents we’re going seen this year is gratifying as a coach to say we played our best game against a very good football team.”
Jackson scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and Brayden Siler hit field goals of 28 and 23 yards to put Troy up 20-0 at halftime. Sidney scored on the first of Gordon’s touchdown passes, this one to Keith Lee. Shoop then returned the kick off to restore the margin to 27-7.
“I saw their team pursuing, then Coby hit that dude and it was open,” Shoop said. “I cut back and all my team was there to support me.”
Troy’s defense held Sidney scoreless in a half for the first time this season. In fact, Sidney had scored in 27 of its 28 quarters coming in the game. The only quarter the Yellow Jackets hadn’t scored in prior to Friday was the fourth quarter of a 35-0 win against Carroll. The Yellow Jackets had also put up 129 points in the first half this season.
“This was one of the better (defensive efforts) because this was one of the better offenses. Dynamic. Explosive,” Burgbacher said. “I don’t know what’s the correct adjective to use for that offense. Even though it was 48-21 I still wasn’t comfortable.
“That’s the thing. You’re dealing with 15 to 18-year old boys. People call me crazy because my job is dependent on them. I trust them and they trust me. We’ve got something good going and now we need to finish it off.”
They did Friday night.