It wasn’t close for long, and it ended with more drama than the final score deserved, as Piqua knotted its all-time series with Troy at 66-66-6 in the on-going history of Ohio’s longest-contested high school football rivalry.
Piqua, OH – There have been many installments of the Troy-Piqua rivalry where the game-ending circumstances from the 138th meeting Friday night at Alexander Field would have wedged into the already-crowded lore of the longest-contested series in Ohio high school football history.
As the final 10 seconds ticked toward expiration, Troy desperately hurried to the line in hopes of getting one more snap and a touchdown from two yards away, while the Piqua sideline pulsed to life as if an entire year’s preparation hung on its defense holding steady.
But pride – albeit only a small vestige for Troy, and just a cherry atop an already-delectable outcome for Piqua – was all that hurried, harried finish held.
An Indians’ victory to lock up the series at 66-66-6 had been assured since they claimed a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter, leaving only the margin by which they would rout the Trojans left undecided.
That settled on 59-0 when Piqua’s Andrew Miller rumbled 23 yards for a touchdown with 2:23 to play, or so it seemed until Troy made the final seconds interesting.
Piqua, of course, wanted the shutout, its third straight this season entering a much tougher task next week at Xenia.
“Four years ago at a pep rally, I actually told this senior class – they were freshmen – that if we got to a certain point, they could be the people that tied this up,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “I really didn’t have to have a huge pre-game talk, because everyone knew that.”
Nees, the Indians head man since 1991, didn’t have to wait long to know he’d be claiming his third straight win over the Trojans and first at the expense of new Troy coach Troy Everhart.
Bryson Roberts’ interception and 35-yard return for a touchdown put Piqua on the board with 5:32 left in the first quarter.
“During film, I noticed that (Troy’s Nick Kawecki) released right off the line,” Roberts said. “I just played in the flat and ran with him. Sam (Schmiesing) pressured the quarterback and made him throw a bad pass. I was able to make a play on the ball and return it.”
The Indians’ defense needed only two more snaps to score again, smothering Troy’s Colin Stoltz in the backfield and forcing a fumble, which senior Brennan Johns scooped up and carried 13 yards for another TD.
Jackson Trombley hit both extra-points and added a 29-yard field goal to nudge the margin to 17-0 by the end of the quarter, but it didn’t stay there long.
Piqua went 77 yards in four plays on its first second-quarter possession, using Dre’Sean Roberts’ 42-yard catch from quarterback Brady Ouhl, to get into position for Ky Warner’s eight-yard run.
Troy offered some momentary resistance, gaining three first downs and reaching the Piqua 44, but quarterback Donald Stanley fumbled under an avalanche in the backfield and linebacker Colten Beougher’s 35-yard TD return provided the Indians’ third defensive touchdown.
That 31-0 lead grew to 38-0 at the break thanks to a closing 50-yard drive that Schmiesing started with a 23-yard gain and ended with a two-yard touchdown run.
Holding the Battle on the Miami trophy, Schmiesing – who would score again on a 24-yard run – credited his team’s dominance to its advance work.
“I think why we were able to do this because we were so prepared,” he said. “We don’t play a lot of Wing-T teams. The last one was Edgewood (in the 2021 playoffs).
“We struggled a little bit with them, but Coach Nees had us in the film room for a long time this week. In a sense, we knew what was coming. We could predict the plays and slant our line and that really helped us out.”
Nees fretted early over the first-possession success of Troy fullback Jahari Ward, but penalties and a stubborn Indians’ defensive line soon cut off that prosperity.
“They were establishing the fullback, so I have to give credit to our two defensive tackles, Derek Jones and Haiden Weigel, because those guys came in and just played their butts off,” Nees said. “The nice thing is, they’re our two strongest guys, but they’ve never played until this year. They’re really young guys. This year, and this game, they got the chance.”
As starters, Jones and Weigel were long gone by Troy’s final, frenetic drive that grew off Kawecki’s 42-yard run. Stoltz ran it to the two-yard line as the seconds ticked down on the clock that had been running since the third-quarter began, an homage to Piqua’s 30-plus point lead.
The Trojans hustled to the line in hopes of at least denting the end zone once, and breaking Piqua’s shutout streak, but instead Stoltz came up short on the final play.
And, had he scored, it wouldn’t have counted, as Troy didn’t get set before snapping the football.
That typified the Trojans’ difficulties throughout, as did back-to-back plays late in the first quarter.
Everhart opted to punt again after a Piqua penalty, even though it didn’t come close to providing first-down yardage.
That wiped away an Indians’ return to the Troy 28, but when the ensuing snap was low, the Indians swarmed punter Connor Moeller at the 15-yard line.
Clearly, the programs are miles apart right now, as Nees has his charges riled up for another unbeaten regular season and extended playoff run.
The Indians’ hopes ended last year in the regional finals with a loss to eventual Division II state champion Winton Woods, which Everhart led to the 2009 title during his 11-year stay there before heading to Middletown and other coaching outposts.
He clearly knows what an elite team looks like, but Friday the only team that answered to that description was the one on the opposite sideline.
“We worked our butts off this week at practice,” Nees said. “You don’t know it’s going to be 59-0. I had no idea. Then you get the thing started and they start pounding that football. We had those two young guys in there and they just kept getting tougher and tougher. We came out of the game healthy and I think we came out with great confidence.”
Bruce Hooley hosts the Bruce Hooley Show on 98.9 The Answer in Columbus and 94.5 The Answer in Dayton from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.