By David Fong
TROY — Jaydon Culp-Bishop didn’t have the game he wanted to one year ago.
Brayden Siler mostly watched from the bench, aside from his kicking duties.
Zach Collett scarcely played, either
Jacob Adams didn’t get to play at all.
Four Troy football players had been waiting a year for redemption.
All four found it in Troy’s 49-14 homecoming win over Tippecanoe Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. With the win, Troy improved to 5-1 (1-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division), while Tippecanoe fell to 3-3 (0-1).
“I didn’t have a good game against these guys last year at all,” said Culp-Bishop, who finished Friday’s game with 18 carries for 262 yards and five touchdowns. “I fumbled the first time I touched the ball. They held me to 60 yards. I got rocked a couple of times. We won the game, but I felt like I let myself down and my team down. I wanted to redeem myself in this game. I had to come out and get it.”
With Troy holding on to a 21-14 lead at halftime, Culp-Bishop didn’t take long to make his presence felt in the second half. On the fourth play of the third quarter, he broke free on a 56-yard touchdown run to extend Troy’s lead to 28-14. Culp-Bishop — who averaged a staggering 14.6 yards per carry for the game — had touchdown runs of 1, 70, 56, 47 and 5 yards on the night.
“Jaydon ran well and our offensive line played extremely well,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said.
After Troy’s defense — which pitched a shut out in the second half — forced a turnover on downs at its own 26, Culp-Bishop would then break free for his 47-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans up 35-14. On the play, Culp-Bishop broke four tackles on his way to the end zone.
If the Red Devils had any chance at all to get back in the game, it ended on the next drive. After a Troy sack forced Tippecanoe to punt deep from within its own territory, Adams went high into the air and blocked the punt. Collett gathered it out of the air and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.
“I noticed their end was flying out to block Tucker (Raskay),” Adams said. “I came back and told Coach Burgbacher I could block the punt if he let me go. He told me to go get it, and I did. There are no words to describe it. It felt so good when I got that block.”
It was a particularly sweet moment for Adams, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury.
“It was so hard sitting out last year,” he said. “There’s no way I wanted to miss any games my senior year.”
It was an equally satisfying moment for Collett, who had to wait until his senior year to earn a starting role on the Trojan defense.
“I was wondering if it was ever going to drop,” Collett said of the blocked punt. “I was so nervous. Then when I caught it, I just had to run, because I knew they were coming after me, which they were. They almost caught me, too. But it felt great. It’s the first touchdown I’ve scored since junior high.”
Early in the game, with Tippecanoe looking to slow Culp-Bishop, the Trojans relied on quarterback Brayden Siler, who finished his night an efficient 11-of-14 for 144 yards with one touchdown.
“We knew they were going to come in an try to make us pass the ball,” Siler said. “They did not want to let Jaydon beat them. We knew those quick bubble screens to the outside would be there, we just had to execute them.”
After Troy’s defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, Troy’s offense took over at its own 42. Siler completed six passes to six different receivers, with Culp-Bishop capping off the drive with a 1-yard run to put the Trojans up 7-0.
Troy’s defense forced another three-and-out and, following a Tippecanoe punt, took over at its own 40. Again, Troy marched right down the field, with Siler completing five passes, including a 24-yarder to Raskay, before he hit tight end Spencer Klopfenstein with a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans up 14-0.
Just when it was starting to look like Troy may run away with things, however, Tippecanoe climbed right back into the game.
Down two scores, Tippecanoe quarterback Troy Taylor led the Red Devils on a 73-yard drive, completing a pair of long passes to Jackson Yeager, the second of which was a 23-yard touchdown pass that cut Troy’s lead to 14-7.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Tippecanoe linebacker Nik Weethee jumped a route and picked off a pass at the Trojan 19. Two plays later, Tippecanoe fullback Cade Beam bulled his way into the end zone from 9 yards out to tie the game at 14-14.
Troy answered just two plays later, however, as Culp-Bishop ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run to put the Trojans up 21-14. Troy looked like it might be going in for another score on its next drive, but Culp-Bishop fumbled at the Tippecanoe 1-yard line and the Red Devils moved the ball to midfield before time ran out in the first half.
The Trojans were able to clean up their mistakes in the second half, however, and run away from the Red Devils.
“We told the kids at halftime, this was still a ballgame,” Burgbacher said. “We knew we had to come out an execute in the second half, and that’s exactly what the kids did. It feels great.”
Redemption usually does.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.