By David Fong
FAIRBORN — After two years of lopsided losses, the Troy football team finally got to see how the other half lives.
And make no mistake, the view was much sweeter from the penthouse.
Since the Ohio High School Athletic Association officially instituted a running clock “mercy rule” prior to the 2014 season, the Trojans were on the wrong side of the running clock seven times in the past two years. Troy flipped the script on Fairborn Friday night, however, jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead and playing much of the second half under a running clock, eventually winning 42-14.
With the win, the Trojans improved to 4-0, while Fairborn fell to 0-4. The Trojans — who entered the game ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Division II state poll — are off to their first 4-0 start since 2000. The Trojans return home to face 3-1 Miamisburg — which was ranked No. 14 in the Division II state poll — this coming Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“The kids have done everything we’ve asked, and that’s go 1-0 every week … and we’ve done that,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “Our second season starts next week. Before the season started, we split the season into two parts — weeks 1-4 and then weeks 5-10. The next six weeks, we know we’ve got to bring our lunch every day.
“But our kids are ready. We’ve put ourselves in this position we are in and that’s a good feeling and I know the kids feel great about themselves. We’re going to enjoy this (Friday night) and they’ve got to come back and get to work (today).”
The Trojans jumped out to a 7-0 lead early on a 14-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Josh Browder, who had all three carries on the drive, picking up 47 yards — which would be a sign of things to come. Just seconds after Jake Anderson booted the extra point, however, lightning was spotted in the area, forcing a series of delays that would end up totaling 1 hour and 12 minutes.
When Troy came back from the delay, it continued its complete and total domination, swarming the Skyhawks on defense and pounding the ball straight at them on offense.
The Trojan defense was otherworldly in the first half, holding the Skyhawks to no points, minus-24 yards rushing and minus-2 yards in total offense. For the game, Fairborn managed just 71 yards in total offense and minus-34 yards rushing.
“I liked our aggressiveness; I loved how our defense got after them,” Burgbacher said. “They’ve got some nice athletes. They’ve got a nice running back; they’ve got a good quarterback and some pretty good receivers. But we knew if the quarterback was retreating, we were putting them in some tough situations. So I loved how our defense played.”
Linebacker John Wehrkamp and defensive back Zion Taylor both recorded interceptions for the Trojans. Wehrkamp, Michael Murray, Christian Nation, Joah Schricker, Logan Hubbard and Deven Sturgeon all recorded sacks for the Trojans. The defense also knocked out Fairborn starting quarterback Wesley Watts — who came into the game second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference in passing — early in the game.
“We were just going after the quarterback all night long,” Wehrkamp said. “We wanted to get in his head. We didn’t want the running back going anywhere. We were locking the receivers up. We just played hard. We just had a great game.”
On a wet night and sloppy field, Troy struggled to get its passing game going — the Trojans completed just one pass on five attempts for the entire game — but as good as the running game was, it didn’t much seem to matter.
Browder would finish the first half with 11 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Hayden Kotwica added a pair of rushing touchdowns of his own as the Trojans built a 35-0 halftime lead, putting the running block in effect to start the second half.
Troy’s offensive line — tackles Travis Hall and Dylan Sedam, guards Drew Smith and Kameron Block and center Rase Darrow — dominated the line of scrimmage as the Trojans rolled up 302 rushing yards and 348 yards in total offense. The Trojans likely would have had more, but the runnig clock and short fields set up by the defense was the only thing keeping Troy’s yardage totals in check.
“Power up the middle or bouncing it to the outside, we worked it all tonight,” Browder said. “We’ve been working on that all week. I can’t thank the offensive line enough,”They kept driving the ball and giving me what I was asking for. I was happy for them.”
With the victory safely salted away by halftime, Troy was able to rest many of its starters the final two quarters, while also getting its back-ups some valuable playing time. Neither Browder or Kotwica saw the the field the entire second half.
Those substitutions did lead to several highlights in the second half, however, as back-up quarterback Andrew Ray connected with Hayden Jackson on a 46-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the half and sophomore Jaydon Culp-Bishop — seeing his first varsity action after missing the first three games with a lingering ankle injury — broke a 60-yard run.
Fairborn would add a pair of touchdowns late in the game, but otherwise, it was a complete and total effort for the Trojans, who will now turn their focus to the final six weeks of the season.
“It’s a great team win,” Burgbacher said. “We’re 4-0. We’ve got to move on and get ready from Miamisburg.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong