By David Fong
TROY — From an incredible debut, to an upset that sent shock waves around the state, to a series of thrilling near-misses in between, the first year under head coach Matt Burgbacher proved to be an exciting one for the Troy football team in 2015.
The Trojans finished the season 2-8, but there was no shortage of intrigue as the Trojans pushed several teams with much better records to the brink throughout the season.
Troy started off the season with a bang, knocking off Chaminade Julienne 42-31. After falling behind 10-0 early, the Trojans came back with a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Hayden Kotwica — one a 14-yarder to tight end Will Brumfield, the second a 97-yard strike to Hayden Jackson, which broke a 52-year-old school record as the longest pass play.
Marc Scordia would add a pair of touchdown runs, Austin Jacobs would pick off a pass and return it 32 yards for a score and Kotwica would finish the night off with a touchdown pass to Zach Boyer as the Trojans held on for the win.
Kotwica finished the night completing 8 of 17 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, Scordia had 27 carries for 129 yards and a pair of scores and Jackson had two catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
The following week, Troy barely missed out on a chance to start the season, 2-0, falling 28-26 to Cincinnati Northwest — one of three games the Trojans would lose by less than one score in 2015.
Troy built a 19-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but could not hold on for the victory.
Kotwica completed 13 of 22 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns — two to Luke Robinson, who also had 86 receiving yards, and one to Jackson.
The next two weeks, the Trojans faced Division I powerhouses Miamisburg and Wayne. The Vikings defeated the Trojans 43-15, while the Warriors beat the Trojans 49-7.
Against Miamisburg, Troy was able to keep it close early, trailing by just one score, 22-15, early in the third quarter. The Trojan scored came on a touchdown run by Kotwica and a 37-yard pass from Kotwica to Jackson. Once the Trojans cut the lead to one score, however, Miamisburg closed the game on a 21-0 run.
Against Wayne — which would end the 2015 season as the Division I state runner-up — it was never close. The Warriors jumped out to a 49-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Troy’s lone score came on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kotwica to Hayata Nagata.
It looked like Troy was on the verge of a third blowout loss in a row the next week against Xenia, as the Trojans trailed 38-14 early in the fourth quarter — one score away from an Ohio High School Athletic Association-mandated running clock.
Troy put on a show the final 11:52 of the game, however, going on a 28-7 run and nearly pulling off a comeback for the ages, only to fall short in a heartbreaking 45-32 loss. Troys’s final score of the game came on Drake McDonaugh’s 8-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:05 left to play in the game. Troy had several chances to tie or win the game late, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Kotwica completed 24 of 42 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns — two to Zion Taylor, two to Scordia and one to Boyer. His five touchdown passes tied a school record set in 1960 by Tommy Myers.
Troy opened Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division play with a 27-14 loss to Greenville. The Trojans took a 14-13 lead when Bailey Williams returned a blocked kick 72 yards for a touchdown and Kotwica ran in a score, but went scoreless in the second half as Greenville pulled out the victory.
After falling flat against Greenville, however, the Trojans rebounded in perhaps the biggest way possible — by stunning state-ranked Trotwood-Madison 21-20 — handing the Rams their first GWOC North Division loss in eight years.
Troy scored first on a touchdown pass from Kotwica to Jackson, then extended the lead to 14-0 on a touchdown run by Kotwica. Troy would extend the lead to 21-6 on another touchdown run by Kotwica, but Trotwood came storming back in the second half, cutting the lead to 21-20 with less than a minute to play in the game.
The Rams elected to go for a two-point conversion, but Williams dragged down Rodric Brogan on the run attempt, securing the biggest win for the Trojans in four years.
Following the upset head ‘round the state, the Trojans suffered a letdown against Sidney, falling behind 22-0 in the first quarter and never recovering in a 52-28 loss. Kotwica threw for a touchdown pass to Jackson, while also running in a score. Scordia and Sam Jackson also added rushing touchdowns for the Trojans.
In Week 9, Troy battled Butler in a back-and-forth contest that eventually saw the Aviators come away with a 33-28 win. Troy led most of the way, but Butler scored the eventual game-winner with 5:40 to play and the Trojans were unable to mount a comeback.
Kotwica did complete 24 of 39 passes for 421 yards, breaking Myers’ school record for most passing yards in a game. He also threw a pair of touchdowns to Robinson, who caught six passes for 164 yards. Scordia had 15 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Troy closed the season with a 26-7 loss to rival Piqua in the 131st meeting between the two teams. Piqua led just 7-0 at halftime, but closed the game on a 19-7 run. The Indians dominated time of possession, 32:39 to 15:21. Troy’s lone score came on a touchdown run by Kotwica.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong