By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — If Friday night’s final scrimmage was the final rehearsal before the real show, the Trojans weren’t quite ready for prime time yet.
They know they have one week to get there.
The Troy football team showed what it’s capable of at times during its final preseason scrimmage against Dunbar Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium. But the defense made just a couple of mistakes — and the Wolverines capitalized for two big-play touchdowns — and time the Trojans threatened to score, the drive was stalled by mistakes or untimely penalties as Dunbar put away a 13-0 win in three quarters of varsity action.
Troy was penalized eight times for 45 yards, including four false starts on offense and three offsides on defense. Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, the Trojans had driven to the Dunbar 8-yard line — but back-to-back false starts forced them the wrong direction, and the Wolverines were able to tip and intercept a third-and-13 pass to kill the drive.
“That was really the theme of the night,” Troy coach Dan Gress said. “We put together some pretty good drives, chunk by chunk by chunk … and then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot and put ourselves in some long-yardage situations. And you can’t do that, especially against the type of defense we were facing tonight.
“That was the theme of the night offensively and defensively, really, those types of mistakes. When we weren’t making those mistakes, we were playing pretty well. And then we’d slip up, and Dunbar’s too good of a team for you to slip up like that, because they’ll take advantage of it.”
That’s exactly what the Wolverines did on their first possession, too.
After forcing a Troy punt at midfield on the game’s opening possession, Dunbar took over at its own 31 and marched down the field in 13 plays, converting twice on third downs along the way — both times thanks to offsides penalties on Troy in third-and-short situations.
And on fourth-and-5 from the 20, Dunbar’s quarterback hit his tight end open up the seam for a 20-yard touchdown, making the score 7-0 Wolverines with 4:54 left in the first quarter.
Troy found more success on its second drive, with Brayden Siler hitting Evan Jones for a 14-yard gain and Kevin Walters converting a fourth-and-1 with a tough run up the middle to push the ball to Dunbar’s 36. But an incompletion on first down turned into a series of four straight incompletions, and Troy turned the ball over on downs.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Trojan offense went right back to work, bulldozing forward behind its big offensive line for decent gains and seeming to wear Dunbar down. But after a Siler completion to Austin Stanaford gave Troy a third-and-3 at the 8-yard line, Troy was hit with two straight offsides calls, and then Dunbar picked off a pass in front of the end zone to keep Troy off the scoreboard and leave it 7-0 at halftime.
The varsity teams came out for one more quarter of action in the third, and Troy’s offense looked like it was ready to finally finish off a drive. But on first-and-10 from Dunbar’s 25, Siler appeared to find Stanaford over the top in the end zone, but a slight bobble on the way to the ground forced the play to be ruled an incompletion and a sack on fourth-and-10 forced another turnover on downs.
On the ensuing possession, Dunbar connected on a 41-yard touchdown pass to go up 13-0 with 2:55 in the quarter, and that’s where the varsity scrimmage ended. Troy’s only touchdown of the night was scored by Alex Greene during the JV portion.
“All credit to Dunbar — we knew from the film we got that this was a much improved, very good Dunbar team,” Gress said. “The big thing with us now is how are we going to learn from this? What team are we going to come back tomorrow morning and be going after it for Week One?”
Troy doesn’t have much time to fix the kinks, either. The Trojans open the regular season Thursday night at Welcome Stadium against Belmont.
“Sure, it’s a short turnaround for us, but it’s going to be a short turnaround for them, too,” Gress said. “We’ll get the boys in and start right away preparing for Belmont. Just like Dunbar, we know that our boys will have to come out and bring it. After tonight, we’ll learn from it and move on and do what we have to do to be 1-0 at the end of the week.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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