By David Fong
TROY — When John Wehrkamp looked across the line of scrimmage, he saw two things in front of him: about 10 yards of green grass and fear.
“Their punter was scared,” said the Troy senior linebacker, whose blocked punt in the third quarter — the Troy football team’s second of the night, both of which led to Trojan touchdowns — helped Troy to a 38-6 win over Fairborn in Troy’s most complete effort of the season Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. “He was scared and I was coming in hot. It’s the best feeling in the world, blocking a punt.”
With the win, Troy improved to 2-2, while Fairborn fell to 1-3.
“The sky is the limit with this team,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We’re not quite where we need to be yet, but we are getting there. We are getting better each week. We’ve still got a lot of room for improvement, but right now a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
Two plays after Wehrkamp’s blocked punt, Troy quarterback Sam Coleman hooked up with tight end Spencer Klopfenstein on a 12-yard touchdown pass, putting the Trojans up 31-0 and starting a running clock against the Skyhawks for a second week in a row.
Fairborn would score to cut the lead to 31-6 and turn off the running block, but Troy iced the game — and turned back on the running block, which starts when a team leads by 30 points or more in the second half — when senior cornerback Derek McDonagh picked off a pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown, giving Troy its final margin of victory.
“We played well in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — at times,” Burgbacher said. “We’ve just got to put together for a full 48 minutes. We played a great first half, but we had some lulls in the second half. We are still working on our consistency.”
After slow starts on offense the first three weeks of the season, Troy’s offense clicked immediately Friday. Running back Jayden Culp-Bishop got the ball early and often, carrying the ball six times and capping off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run. In the first half alone, Culp-Bishop had 15 carries for 133 yards. He would finish the game with 194 rushing yards, his second week in a row flirting with the 200-yard mark.
“My offensive line played great,” Culp-Bishop said. “They were opening up huge holes. It felt great.”
After Troy’s second drive stalled deep in Skyhawk territory, Troy’s defense stuffed Fairborn, forcing the Skyhawks to punt from keep within their own territory. Shoop broke through the line and blocked the punt, giving the Trojans the ball at the Fairborn 1. Shoop was the beneficiary of his own blocked punt, as he punched it in from a yard out on the next play, putting the Trojans up 14-0.
“That felt great,” Shoop said of the blocked punt. “Joah (Schricker) took out the guard and the personal protector went the wrong way. I just tried to get in there and get the block.”
Troy’s defense held Fairborn to just 74 yards total offense in the first half.
Troy’s ability to pound the ball opened things up for the passing game, which Troy took advantage of late in the second quarter. After Troy’s defense forced its fourth punt of the first half, Troy took over at their own 31. Runs by Culp-Bishop and Shoop pushed the ball to the Fairborn 35. With Fairborn creeping up to the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stop the run, Troy quarterback Sam Coleman dropped back and his a wide-open Matt McGillivary on a 35-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans up 21-0.
Coleman finished the game competing 9 of 17 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. McGillivary had 79 receiving yards.
The Trojan defense would force a sixth punt just before the halftime. Troy took over at the Skyhawk 46 and took advantage of the short field, capping off the drive with a 22-yard field goal by Brayden Siler just before halftime to take a 24-0 lead into the locker room.
Things will get significantly tougher this coming Friday as Troy goes on the road to take on Division I powerhouse Miamisburg, a team that beat Troy both during the regular season and in the playoffs last year.
“We can be happy with this win, but we can’t be satisfied,” Burgbacher said. “We’ve still got a lot of season ahead of us and we need to get better every week.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong