By David Fong
TROY — As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Brayden Siler couldn’t help but pick up Jaydon Culp-Bishop in his arms and carry him off the field at Troy Memorial Stadium.
It only seemed fair, considering for the previous 48 minutes, Culp-Bishop had put the Troy football team on his back and carried the Trojans.
Culp-Bishop, Troy’s senior running back, had a record-setting night in Troy’s Division II regional quarterfinal playoff game Friday, carrying the ball 31 times for 356 yards and six touchdowns as Troy blasted Harrison 48-7 to move on to the regional semifinals. Troy will take on Cincinnati Anderson for the third year in a row at a location to be announced Sunday. The previous two meetings came in the first round of the playoffs.
With his performance Friday, Culp-Bishop set Troy playoff records for most rushing yards and most touchdowns in a playoff game. He also became just the third running back in Troy history to top the 2,000-yard mark in a season. Culp-Bishop now has 2,237 rushing yards this year.
“I feel great,” Culp-Bishop said after the game. “This feels amazing, man, to come out here and score this many points against a very good team. My line was incredible. They opened up so many holes for me. This is the best I’ve ever felt. I’m not tired at all. I feel like I could go out and play another game right now.”
Harrison would probably prefer he not.
When Culp-Bishop wasn’t running through the Harrison defense, Troy’s defense was shutting down the Wildcats’ normally high-powered offense. The Trojans held Harrison quarterback Connor Kinett, who threw for more than 2,200 yards during the regular season, to just 151 yards on 22 of 41 attempts.
“We play a lot of run teams during the season, a lot of wing-t offenses,” said Troy outside linebacker Sam Jackson, who led the Trojans in tackles. “We don’t usually see teams that throw this much. But our coaches came up with a great game plan and put us in position to succeed.”
Run JCB wasted little time taking over the game, breaking off a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to put the Trojans up early. He would add another score, this time on a 15-yard run, to put Troy up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Harrison posed its only real threat to the Trojans, taking advantage of a pair of Trojan penalties to scored on a 7-yard pass from Kinett to Bret Reinstatler, cutting Troy’s lead to 14-7.
Troy answered immediately, however, marching down the field, deep into Wildcat territory. On third-and-10, Siler completed an 11-yard pass to Tucker Raskay, taking the ball to the Harrison 2 with nine seconds to play in the half. Troy then called its final timeout.
“We knew all week that play was going to be there,” Raskay said. “That was all technique and all mental. I’ve got to let the guy go first so I can get the rub route. Once I got the ball, I knew I either had to score or get us as close to scoring as possible.”
With just nine seconds left and no way of stopping the clock again, Troy elected to run the ball, and Culp-Bishop powered his way in to put the Trojans up 21-7 going into halftime.
“That was a huge score,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We knew we had to find a way to get the ball in the end zone. That gave us all the momentum going into halftime. We know how much momentum can mean when a team is able to score right before the half. They scored on a nice play, but I loved the way our kids responded.”
With all the momentum going their way, the Trojans came out and dominated in the second half. Culp-Bishop — who had 19 carries for 178 yards at halftime — would add 12 carries for 178 more and three more touchdowns in the second half. He scored on runs of 52, 35 and 35 yards to cap off his incredible night. Carlos Quintero would add another rushing touchdown late in the game for the Trojans.
From there, it was simply a matter of Troy’s defense continuing to dominate the game and give the Trojans their second playoff victory in three years.
“This was the best game we’ve played all season,” Burgbacher said. “I give the kids all the credit. They played hard for 48 minutes. You are never going to have a perfect game, but our kids had a perfect effort. I couldn’t be more proud of them. This feels great.”
In fact, it felt downright uplifting.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.