By David Fong
MIAMISBURG — Four weeks ago, some were ready to shovel dirt on the Troy football team’s season.
Rumors of Troy’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
The Trojans put together their most impressive effort of the season Friday, stunning Division I power Miamisburg 31-21 on its home turf, avenging both a regular season and playoff loss suffered at the hands of the Vikings last season. With the win, Troy improved to 3-2 and announced its presence to the Miami Valley, while Miamisburg fell to 3-2.
“Absolutely, people thought we were done for,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “Then after we lost the Bellefontaine game, everyone thought this would be a rebuilding year for Troy. But we’ve kept stressing to the kids that this is a process. You’ve got to go 1-0 every single day. You’e got to win the day. Our assistant coaches did a great job this week getting our kids ready for this game. I can’t give them enough credit.”
Jaydon Culp-Bishop continued his ascendancy as the Trojans’ featured running back, rushing for more than 250 yards, including a back-breaking 42-yard touchdown scamper at the start of the third quarter, putting Troy up 28-7 and essentially icing the game.
“This feels great,” Culp-Bishop said. “The first half, the holes were there, but then in the third quarter, I started seeing and hitting my holes a lot better. My offensive line did a great job for me.”
As well as things ended, Troy couldn’t possibly have gotten off to a worse start in the game.
After going three and out on its first drive, things got even worse on the Trojans’ second drive when Miamisburg linebacker Matt Jablonski picked off a Sam Coleman pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, putting the Vikings up 7-0.
Following the kickoff, things appeared to go from bad to absolute disaster for the Trojans when, on the first play from scrimmage, Shane Shoop fumbled and Miamisburg pounced on it at the Trojan 35.
Rather than fold, however, the Troy defense came up big, whipsawing the momentum when Trojan senior safety Zach Boyer picked off a Tate Vongsy pass at the Troy 25 yard line and returned it all the way to the Miamisburg 15. Three plays later, Troy running back Sam Jackson bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out. Braden Siler booted the extra point, tying the game at 7-7.
“I’m so proud of the way our kids never quit,” Burgbacher said. “I love how our kids responded. We didn’t have a lot going our way early, but we just kept fighting.”
Troy’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half, stuffing the Vikings’ vaunted wing-t ground attack and forcing Miamisburg to take to the air. As a team, Miamisburg — which came into the game averaging 303.5 rushing yards per game — had 19 carries for just 39 total yards in the first half. With the Vikings forced to pass, Troy’s defensive backfield was up to the challenge, holding Vongsy to just one completion on 10 attempts in the first half.
After Troy’s defense forced a punt, the offense took over at its own 21 to start the second quarter. Following a 23-yard run by Culp-Bishop, Miamisburg’s safeties started creeping up, which allowed Coleman to hit wide-open tight end Spencer Klopfenstein down the seam for a 30-yard touchdown pass, putting the Trojans up 14-7.
Troy’s defense forced another three-and-out and Miamisburg was forced to punt for the sixth time in the half, giving the Trojans the ball at midfield. After Coleman completed a 17-yard pass to Klopfenstein, he took off for a nifty 24-yard run, giving the Trojans the ball at the Miamisburg 8-yard line. On the next play, Jackson ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the half, putting the Trojans up 21-7.
Up 21-7, Troy took the second-half kickoff and, on the second play from scrimmage, Culp-Bishop broke free on a 42-yard touchdown run, upping the Trojans’ lead to 28-7. Following yet another Miamisburg punt, Troy took over at its own 20. Culp-Bishop continued to punish the Miamisburg defense, picking up 69 yards on a drive that ended in a 28-yard field goal by Siler, putting the Trojans up 31-7.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Miamisburg would score to cut Troy’s lead to 31-13. Miamisburg would score again to make it 31-21 and was threatening to make it a one-score game with three minutes to play, but Trojan linebacker John Wehrkamp knocked away a fourth-down pass deep in Trojan territory to preserve the victory.
Troy travels to Tippecanoe next week as it defends its Greater Western Ohio American North Division title the final half of the season.
“We’ve got to keep this going,” Burgbacher said. “We’ve got a title to defend. It’s our title and we want to defend it.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong