By David Fong
TROY — Late in the second quarter, a red homecoming balloon fell lazily to the turf in Troy Memorial Stadium, where it popped unceremoniously.
It was the perfect metaphor for the Troy football team’s offense — which had been flying high for most of the season — which fell to Earth with a thud in a 27-14 homecoming night loss to Greenville Friday.
With the loss, Troy fell to 1-5 (0-1 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division), while Greenville improved to 3-3 (1-0 in the GWOC North).
“We did fall flat,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “All of us. The coaches need to coach better. We made some mistakes we don’t normally make. I just had this feel, something just wasn’t … I’m speechless.
“This one is my fault. It’s my job to get this kids ready and get this program back where it needs to be. It’s going to get fixed because I’m going to take ownership of this one. I’m taking full blame for this loss.”
Up 14-13 at halftime, Troy squandered that lead and the offense never could catch up. Late in the third quarter, the Trojans fumbled the ball near midfield. On the very next play, Greenville quarterback Clay Guillozet — who torched the Trojans with more than 150 yards through the air and on the ground — hooked up with Justin Brown on a 47-yard touchdown pass, giving the Green Wave a 21-14 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
“The fumbles hurt us,” Burgbacher said. “It was like that all night for us. We’d do something good, then we’d turn around and do something like that that would hurt us. We never could seem to get going.”
After a Trojan punt, Greenville’s offense went 89 yards for the clinching touchdown, which came on a 6-yard pass from Guillozet to Devin Hendrix.
“I think Greenville’s offense line did an excellent job controlling the game,” Burgbacher said. “Let’s give Greenville some credit — they are a good football team. There’s offensive line really controlled things up front.”
Even both of Troy’s first-half touchdowns were set up by special teams and defense — or, more specifically, senior defensive back Bailey Williams.
Already down 7-0 after Guillozet hooked up with Bradley Mead on a 60-yard touchdown pass, the Trojans were facing an even deeper hole when a Troy drive stalled at the Greenville 40 and the Wave drove to the Trojan 12.
On fourth down, Greenville lined up for a field goal, but Troy’s Will Brumfield blocked the kick, which Williams promptly scooped up and returned 72 yards fora touchdown, knotting the score at 7-7 following Austin Jacobs’ extra point.
On the next drive, Greenville would drive deep into Trojan territory, but Troy’s defense would stiffen, turning away the Wave four times from inside the Trojan 10. Troy took over its own 1-yard line, but was forced to punt, giving Greenville the ball at the Trojan 44.
Greenville used the short field to take a 13-7 lead Guillozet capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Rich.
Late in the second quarter, Greenville was once again threatening to extend that lead when Williams once again came up big for the Trojans. He hauled in a tipped pass at the Trojan 30 and returned it 70 yards for an apparent touchdown.
There was a penalty on the play, however, negating the touchdown and giving the Trojans the ball at the Greenville 34. Long passes from Troy quarterback Hayden Kotwica to Luke Robinson and Hayden Jackson set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Kotwica, giving the Trojans a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
That, however, would be the end of the highlights for the Trojans the rest of the night.
“We will get better from this,” Burghbacher said. “I can promise you that we’ll be a better football team next week. This one is my fault and I’m going to see to it that we get better.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong