By David Fong
TROY — It certainly wasn’t the start the Troy football team was looking for in its final preseason scrimmage.
From that point forward, however, things went about as well as the Trojans could have hoped for in a 37-12 win over Dunbar in just three quarters of varsity action Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Dunbar started off the scrimmage with an 80-yard touchdown strike as Troy let a Wolverine receiver get 15 yards behind the entire defense. From there, though, the defense mostly settled down, and the offense was efficient, scoring touchdowns on its first three drives as Troy built a 28-12 halftime lead.
“We didn’t face a whole lot of adversity in our last scrimmage,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said of the opening play. “So it was good to see how well we responded from that. It was a blown coverage. That’s all it was. But our kids reacted great. We drove right down the field and scored. That was good to see.”
Following Dunbar’s opening score, Troy took over and quarterback Hayden Kotwica — along with running backs Sam Jackson and Josh Browder — drove the Trojans 75 yards in nine plays, capping off the drive with a 31-yard touchdown pass to receiver Matt McGillivary, who hauled in the throw, split a pair of Dunbar defenders and hustled into the end zone. Jacob Anderson booted the extra point to put the Trojans up 7-6, a lead they would never relinquish.
On the Wolverines’ next drive, Troy outside linebacker John Wehrkamp sacked the Dunbar quarterback, forcing a fumble. Wehrkamp then got up and recovered the fumble at the Dunbar 22. Four plays later, Jackson bulled his way in from 3 yards out to extend Troy’s lead to 14-6.
Troy’s defense forced another turnover on Dunbar’s next drive, as defensive tackle Christian Nation scooped up a Dunbar fumble and returned it to the Trojan 47. Troy’s offense again cashed in as, after several strong runs by Browder, Kotwica hooked up with Hayata Nagata on a 17-yard touchdown pass to extend Troy’s lead to 21-6.
Dunbar would answer to cut Troy’s lead to 21-12, but Troy would add another touchdown, this time with Andrew Ray leading the way at quarterback. Not only did he peel off a 27-yard run, he completed a pair of passes to Zion Taylor and Spencer Klopfenstein to set up Browder’s 3-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans open 28-12.
Troy picked up right where it left off in the second half. With Jackson pounding away at the Dunbar defense, the Trojans went 75 yards, capping it off with Jackson’s second touchdown run of the night, extending Troy’s lead to 34-12.
After a Trojan interception, Troy got the ball back at the Dunbar 4-yard line when sophomore defense tackle Gage Forsythe sacked the quarterback, forcing a fumble. Wehrkamp pounced on it for his second fumble recovery of the night, and Anderson booted a 21-yard field goal, putting the Trojans up 37-12.
Late in the third quarter, Kobe Feltner would add an interception for the Trojans. Troy would run out the clock in the third quarter, ending the varsity portion of the scrimmage.
“We feel good about things right now,” Burgbacher said. “We saw some mistakes and some things we need to fix, but we are close to being ready for Week 1. Our kids gave a great effort. We feel like we are ready to go.”
Troy opens the regular season at 7 p.m. this Friday against Trotwood-Madison High School.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong