By David Fong
TROY — Weston Smith must have felt like he was watching a Hollywood blockbuster.
Even better, he knew he’d have a chance to star in it.
“All the film we watched on them, we knew they were going to pass,” the Troy football team’s junior cornerback said. “I was excited. I knew I was finally going to be my opportunity. I wanted to come out and show what I could do. I’ve been waiting two years for an opportunity like this. I love playing against the pass.”
After seven weeks of playing against teams looking to run the ball, Troy finally ran up against a pass-happy team, and Smith led the way with three of the Trojans’ six interceptions in a 38-19 win over Sidney Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. With the win, Troy improved to 7-1 (3-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division), while Sidney fell to 4-4 (1-2 in the GWOC North).
In addition to Smith’s three picks, Jacob Shoop, Jacob Adams and Kobe Feltner also got in on the action, meaning all four of Troy’s starting defensive backs had at least one pick on the night.
“Our defensive backs really got tested tonight, which we knew would happen,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “They got beat a couple of times, but that’s because Sidney threw a couple of perfect passes. They were right on the money. But the nice thing was, when that happened, they rebounded from that and came back to make plays.”
On a night in which the rain never stopped, Troy’s offense relied heavily on senior running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop to move the ball. He finished the first half with 27 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns as Troy built a 24-7 halftime lead. He only got two carries in the second half — the second of which was his third touchdown of the night — as Troy extended its lead to 31-7.
Culp-Bishop would spend the rest of the second half on the sidelines as precautionary measure. Senior Sam Jackson stepped in at running back and carried the load the rest of the way, adding a touchdown to extend Troy’s lead to 38-13 after Sidney had scored to cut into Troy’s lead. The Yellow Jackets would add another touchdown later in the fourth quarter.
“I knew with the weather conditions, I was probably going to be getting the ball a lot,” Culp-Bishop said. “I knew it was going to be tough to pass the ball in this weather. I hate the cold, man. I hate it more than anything. But you do what you have to do to hep the team.”
Troy took the opening drive and went 65 yards on 17 plays, with — not surprisingly — Culp-Bishop getting most of the work. Troy had eaten 6:05 off the block when Culp-Bishop powered his way into the end zone from 7 yards out, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
The Trojans’ second scoring drive didn’t take nearly as long. After the Trojans thwarted a Sidney fake punt attempt and took over at the Yellow Jacket 41, it only took three plays for Troy to tack on another score. On third down, Troy quarterback Brayden Siler was rolling away from pressure and found Caillou Monroe in the back of the end zone for a 35 yard touchdown pass, putting the Trojans up 14-0.
Sidney would answer two drives later when Ryan Dunham’s 46-yard pass to Lathan Jones set up a 13-yard scoring strike to Ratez Roberts, cutting Troy’s lead to 14-7.
Troy would answer on its next drive, with Culp-Bishop carrying the ball on 10 out of 11 plays, capping off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans up 21-7.
Late in the second quarter and Sidney trying to cut into Troy’s lead, Troy’s Jacob Shoop picked off a Dunham pass at the Yellow Jacket 40 and returned it to the 25. Troy would eventually settle for a 24-yard field goal by Siler to take a 24-7 lead into halftime.
On the third play of the second half, Smith’s intercepted a pass at the Yellow Jacket 25 and returned it to the 4 to set up Culp-Bishop’s final touchdown run.
Troy had a chance to put the game well out of reach in the second half — five of Troy’s six interceptions were in the final two quarters — but sloppy play on offense, coupled with more than 100 yards in penalties, kept the Trojans from reaching a running clock. Late in the game, things got chippy as a fight broke out on the field and players from both teams were ejected.
“We’ve got to be more composed than that,” Burgbacher said. “I wasn’t happy with how things ended. But right now, it’s a win, and we’ll take it. That’s the goal … win and move on.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.