By David Fong
GREENVILLE — Jaydon Culp-Bishop still hates the cold.
But he’s starting to warm up to the idea of playing on frigid nights.
“I hate it,” Troy’s senior running back said. “I still hate it. But I am starting to hate it less after a night like tonight.”
Hard to blame him. On a night in which the mercury dropped, Culp-Bishop rose to the occasion in Troy’s 48-12 win over Greenville Friday. He unofficially finished with 27 carries for 407 yards and six touchdowns on runs of 2, 55, 23, 1, 35 and 53 yards.
With the win, Troy clinched a share of its third-straight Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title and, unofficially, a third-straight trip to the playoffs. Troy improved to 8-1 (4-0 in the GWOC North), while Greenville fell to 3-6 (0-3). Troy will travel to rival Piqua next week.
“It feels good,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We’d still like to clinch the title outright and not have to share, but this is good for the kids. They’ve earned this. Now the pressure is off in Week 9 and we can go into Week 10 just focused on playing Piqua.”
With Troy clinging to a 20-12 halftime lead against a scrappy Greenville team, the Trojans wasted little time putting the game out of reach in the third quarter. Tr9y took the second half kickoff and, with Culp-Bishop leading the way, went 65 yards in seven plays, capping of the drive with a 1-yard run by Culp-Bishop, his fifth touchdown of the night.
Culp-Bishop was quick to credit his offensive line of tackles Jesse Westmeyer and Nate Garber, guards Marshall Brueckman, Ethan Freed and Jakob Moorman and center Riley Hubbard.
“My offensive line was incredible,” Culp-Bishop said. “They opened up so many huge holes. I saw heaven again tonight with the holes they opened.”
On the Green Wave’s next drive, the Trojan defense forced a three-and-out. Troy’s Garrett Jones broke through the Greenville line, blocked the punt, then scooped it up and scored to put the Trojans up 34-12. That would put the game out of reach, as Culp-Bishop safely put the game away with two more touchdown runs.
“Coach told me I was going to get one tonight,” Jones said. “He said this was my night. I got through, got the block and then just saw the ball laying there, so I scooped it up and scored. It felt great.”
On Greenville’s first drive, Greenville converted three first downs including one on third-and-13 at midfield, in which quarterback Tyler Beyke hit Marcus Wood on a screen pass. Wood appeared to be stopped near the Trojan sideline, but slipped free from a pair of Trojan defenders and scampered all the way to the end zone, putting Greenville up 6-0 early.
After going three-and-out on its first drive of the night, Troy took its first lead of the night after the defense stopped Greenville on fourth-and-3, giving the Trojans the ball at the Greenville 48. Three plays later, Culp-Bishop scored his first touchdown of the night, going in from 2 yards out to put the Trojans up 7-6.
Troy got the ball back soon after on safety Jacob Adams’ interception, which he returned to the Greenville 37. A pair of Troy plays went backward and the Trojans faced third-and-28 at their own 45. Not that it much mattered, however, as Culp-Bishop took the ball up the middle and outran the Greenville defense for a 55-yard touchdown, extending Troy’s lead to 14-6.
Two drives later, Troy got the ball back at its own 36. After a pair of short runs, Culp-Bishop broke off a 52-yard run, giving Troy the ball at the Greenville 3. Following a Trojan penalty, Culp-Bishop picked up his third score of the night, this time on a 12-yard run, extending Troy’s lead to 20-6.
It appeared Troy would take that lead into halftime, but Greenville got the ball near midfield with 1:28 to play in the half following a 16-yard Trojan punt. Troy’s defense appeared as if it was going to stop Greenville, but a Beyke pass bounced off a pair of players and into the arms of Wood, who took the ball all the way down to the Trojan 3-yard line with just nine seconds to play in the half.
Beyke hooked up with Wood on a fade in the end zone, cutting Troy’s lead to 20-12 going into halftime.
Not that it much mattered, however, as the second half belonged to the Trojans.
“We just told the kids at halftime we had to fix a few things,” Burgbacher said. “They had two plays in the first half in which the ball bounced their way. That’s the way football is sometimes.”
Culp-Bishop said he was disappointed with the way he played in last week’s win over Sidney — he missed most of the second half with a sore hip — and was glad to get another chance Friday.
“I felt like I had to redeem myself,” he said. “I felt like I had to show up and let people know what I could do.”
He did just that, leaving Troy’s fans with a warm feeling in their hearts.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.