By Josh Brown
TROY — On the first play back from a 20-minute delay while the emergency squad tended to an injured Jefferson play, Troy Christian’s Jason Blake intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.
That’s simply the kind of night it was.
Troy Christian did whatever it wanted to against visiting Jefferson, scoring seemingly at will and putting up 36 points in the first quarter alone in a 55-0 romp over the depleted Broncos Friday night at Eagle Stadium, the team’s second shutout of the season.
A blocked punt, a pair of interceptions — both of which were returned for touchdowns, except a penalty wiped the second score off the board — and a host of big plays on offense, including three rushing touchdowns by Harrison Hartman, all helped the Eagles win their second straight game and improve to 6-1 on the season. In fact, the Eagles were perfect on offense in the first half, finishing off all six possessions with touchdowns to add to the defensive score. Jefferson, meanwhile, fell to 0-7 and was shut out for the fourth time.
“I was really happy with the way the guys came out tonight,” Troy Christian coach Ryan Jones said. “We were focused and ready from the get-go. And it was good to get some of our younger guys in there and get them some Friday night experience. I was happy with the way everyone played. They all played well, and they helped us keep the shutout, too, which was good.”
Troy Christian’s first scoring drive of the night went 53 yards on only five plays as quarterback Caleb Twiss was 3 for 3 to three different receivers, hitting Nathan Waltz with a 12-yard touchdown pass to make the score 8-0 after Blake ran in the two-point conversion with 10:03 to go in the opening quarter.
After Nick Baker blocked a Jefferson punt on the ensuing drive, the Eagles took over at their own 45-yard line. Two plays later, Hartman took the ball untouched around the left side on a 25-yard touchdown run, and another two-point run by Blake made the score 16-0 with 6:17 still on the clock.
A three-and-out and a big punt return by Waltz put the ball back in the Eagles’ hands on their own 25, and two plays later Waltz finished what he started with a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 23-0 with 4:00 left in the first.
And then things got even uglier.
With 2:25 left in the quarter, one of only 16 Jefferson players that dressed for the game went down with an injury, and play was stopped for roughly 20 minutes as he was taken off the field. Immediately after it resumed, Blake picked off a pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to give Troy Christian a 30-0 lead at the 2:08 mark.
“Blake has been unbelievable running the ball for us this year, but he doesn’t get as much credit for his play on defense,” Jones said. “He’s really stepped up for us at outside linebacker, and that interception was a great play. He read it the whole way and stepped in front of it — and Brady Clawson made a play just like it later in the game. We’re getting better at coverage, which is good to see.”
And after another quick three-and-out by the defense, Hartman broke away for a 55-yard touchdown run on the first play of the ensuing possession to make it 36-0 with 34 seconds on the clock. Finally, with 26 seconds on the clock, Brady Clawson intercepted a pass and took it for what appeared to be a 25-yard touchdown, only to have that scored called back by a penalty, allowing the quarter to end at 36-0 — and both teams agreed to turn the running clock on in the second quarter instead of waiting until halftime per the OHSAA mercy rule.
Two plays into the second quarter, Twiss scored on a 1-yard run to put the Eagles up 42-0 with 11 minutes left in the half, then Hartman scored on an 8-yard run with two minutes on the clock to make the score 49-0 at the break. From there, Troy Christian added one second-half score and wound down the clock from there.
“We’re getting better every day, and that’s what we want to see,” Jones said.
Troy Christian hosts Hillcrest Academy in its final home game of the season in Week 8.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.