By David Fong
VANDALIA — Blake Burton had let opportunities pass him by before.
He wasn’t going to let it happen again.
The Troy football team’s senior linebacker blocked one punt and force a fumble on another to power the Trojans to a 25-0 win over Butler Friday. With the win, Troy improved to 6-1 (2-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division), while Butler fell to 4-3 (1-1 in the GWOC North).
“It was was a rugby punt,” Burton said. “Coach (Dan) Gress called the play. He said they were going to move their ‘bulls’ over. I just got by them. It felt pretty good. I had missed some opportunities last year to block some punts and didn’t want to do that again. It was a huge different in the game. I blocked the first one and Tucker (Raskay) scooped it up and made the play.”
After Troy’s defense forced a three-and-out on the Aviator’s opening drive, Trojan linebacker Blake Burton broke though the Butler line and blocked the punt, knocking it back into the end zone, where Raskay fell on it to put the Trojans up 6-0.
For Raskay, it was the perfect birthday gift for his father, Scott, who turned 40-something Friday.
“My dad told me to go out there, kick some butt and get a score for his birthday,” Raskay said. “I just said, ‘Yes sir.” All week I thought I was going to be the one to get the block. But then I looked up and saw Blake getting the block. All the credit goes to him for that. My only thought was, ‘Scoop and score.’ I didn’t want to recover it on the 1. I wanted to get the score for my dad.”
Later in the game, with Troy leading 19-0, the Aviators again had to punt from their own end zone, thanks in part to the Troy defense, which was lights out all evening. This time Burton was about to tackle the Butler punter, who fumbled the ball and fell on it at the Aviator 3-yard line. Three plays later, Jaydon Culp-Bishop bulled his way in from a yard out to put the Trojans up 25-0.
“Absolutely, our special teams played well,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “Our special teams and defense played great. We gave up a little bit of yards one some plays and bent at times, but we didn’t break. And then for our special teams to block two punts is great. That first one really set the tone for us.”
Troy’s offense struggled to move the ball early in the game, going three-and-out on its first two drives. On Troy’s third drive, however, the Trojans finally got the ball rolling. Tight end Spencer Klopfenstein ignited the drive when caught a pass from quarterback Brayden Siler and rumbled 53 yards to the Butler 17. Two plays later, Culp-Bishop bulled his way in from 12 yards out, putting the Trojans up 13-0.
That was just the warm-up act for Run JCB, however.
After the Troy defense forced yet another three-and-out, Butler punted and pinned the Trojans at their own 3. On the first play from scrimmage, Culp-Bishop gave Troy some breathing room with a 9-yard run. On the very next play, he took the ball up the middle, cut outside, broke a tackle and outran the Aviator defense 88 yards for a touchdown to put the Trojans up 18-0.
Culp-Bishop finished the game with 18 carries for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Culp-Bishop needed just 26 yards coming into the game to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He now has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, becoming just the ninth running back in school history to accomplish that feat, joining Ryan Brewer (1996, 1997 and 1998), Bob Ferguson (1955, 1956 and 1957), Matt Dallman (1995, 1996 and 1997), Tom Vaughn (1959 and 1960), Gordon Bell (1970 and 1971), Larry Giangulio (1985 and 1986), Deon Metz (1990 and 1991) and Brad Clay (1992 and 1993).
His offensive line — tackles Jesse Westmeyer and Nathan Garber, guards Marshall Brueckman and Jakob Moorman and center Riley Hubbard —took over the game in the final three quarters.
“It took me a little while to get going,” Culp-Bishop said. “That’s something I need to work on. I start a little slow. But I had great blocking tonight. My offensive line did great, but my receivers did great blocking downfield, too — Tucker, my man Caillou (Monroe), Weston (Smith), Shane (Shoop), they all did a great job blocking for me.”
Troy will now close the season against Sidney, Greenville and Piqua — and controls its own destiny in terms of winning the GWOC North and going to the playoffs for a third year in a row.
“Our kids came down here and played hard against a good Butler team,” Burgbacher said. “It wasn’t perfect, but you have to give Butler a lot of credit, too. But we fought through some adversity and came away with a win.”
It was an opportunity upon which the Trojans couldn’t pass.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.