By David Fong
TROY — The victory celebration was short.
“I’m going to go home and watch the film — then I’ve got to go to school in the morning,” first-year Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher said after his team opened the season with a 42-31 win over Chaminade Julienne Thursday night. “Then I’m going to go down to Cincinnati (Friday) night and scout Northwest. This was one game.”
Perhaps, but it was was an important one — and an important victory.
For the first time since 2011, the Troy football team got the season started with a victory. Now the Trojans will try to make it two wins in a row against a team that beat them 23-0 last season and has qualified for the Division II playoffs each of the past two seasons.
First, though, some final thoughts about the victory over CJ:
• Offensive Player of the Game: It’s hard to pick out just one star on the offensive side of the ball for the Trojans, who racked up nearly 500 yards in offense.
Quarterback Hayden Kotwica accounted for nearly 300 yards in total offense, however, completing 9 0f 20 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for more than 60 yards. Thrust into the starting job a year ago as a sophomore, Kotwica’s maturation has been nothing short of amazing. He made good decisions both throwing the ball and running the read-option.
Honorable mention goes to running back Marc Scordia, who carried the ball 28 times for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
• Defensive Player of the Game: Once again, on a night when so many Trojan stars were shining bright — literally on their helmets and figuratively on the field — it’s not easy to pick just one.
Too hard, in fact.
Troy’s defensive backfield — which was absolutely blistered in a 42-7 loss to Chaminade Julienne to open last season — made big plays all night. Yes, Troy still gave up 247 yards through the air, but the defensive backfield also picked off four passes, including two by Drake McDonagh, one by Zach Boyer and one by Austin Jacobs, which he returned 32 yards for a touchdown.
Give credit to the entire defensive backfield, which also has grown up during the offseason.
Honorable mention goes to linebacker Will Brumfield, who recorded a pair of sacks and double-digit tackles.
• Play of the Game: If the first two honors were difficult to choose, this one is a little easier.
Down 10-7 early in the game, Troy was pinned at its own 3-yard line. Kotwica dropped back in his own end zone and hit junior receiver Hayden Jackson in stride at the 30-yard line. Jackson then outraced the CJ defense the end zone to complete the 97-yard scoring play, giving the Trojans a 14-10 lead and a huge moment boost.
The 97-yard passing touchdown is the longest in school in school history, breaking a record that stood for more than half a century when Richard Vorpe completed a 94-yard pass to Tom Calloway in a 28-26 win over Piqua in 1963.
The Kotwica-to-Jackson touchdown also is tied for the third longest play from scrimmage in school history — behind Cody Boyd’s 99-yard against Alter in 2004, Mike Boyd’s 98-yard run against Beavercreek in 1978 and tied with Steve Johnston’s 97-yard run against Piqua in 1966.
• What This Means: It’s hard to measure — but also hard to underestimate — how much this means to a Troy team that has known little outside of heartache the past three seasons, including a 1-9 season last year.
While no one ever won a league title or a playoff berth after one game, it is a great start for the Trojans. They faced adversity multiple times against CJ, but twice came from behind to pull out the victory.
This is a good win for the Trojans against a quality team.
• What Happens Now: Now comes perhaps an even tougher test for the Trojans — dealing with success. No player currently on Troy’s roster has ever opened the season with a victory; keeping things in perspective and not allowing for a letdown will be key against a solid Cincinnati Northwest team that opened its season with an impressive 49-14 victory over Western Hills.
As Burgbacher said minutes after the win over the Eagles, there’s little time to savor the victory — Troy needs to get back to work immediately.
Troy has not opened a season 2-0 since 2008.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong