Saturday, August 28, 2004

Troy 19, Dublin Coffman 15

Game Story

The first game of the season is in the books, and it was a good one.

The Trojans came out strong and took the early lead. Their offense was a little inconsistent in the first half, but they managed to move the ball on a couple of series. Coffman's offense looked bad. Their quarterback couldn't find any of his receivers, and their running game wasn't working. Troy's defensive line did a nice job, and Troy went into halftime up 12-0 (two TDs, one missed kick, one failed conversion).

Coffman came out of the locker room with a spark. They played inspired football in the third quarter. Troy tried their best to give the game away in that quarter with penalties, defensive lapses, turnovers, and three-and-outs. Still, the defense came up big when they had to. They gave up one touchdown, but that was it.

However, early in the fourth quarter, Coffman scored on a punt return and converted the two-point try, going up 15-12. Troy got back in their offensive groove after that, though, and drove down the field. They scored on a fourth down pass play from junior QB A.J. Bush to senior WR Shane Carter. From there the pressure was on our defense, and they stood tall and got the job done--they bent, but wouldn't break. The last play of the game was a pass into the endzone from Coffman's quarterback--a pass that landed safely on the turf, out of bounds, as the clock hit 0:00.

Coffman has a good team, and this was a big win for Troy. They did play inconsistently, but they did well when their backs were against the wall. They played with a lot of heart, which--while I hate to criticize anyone's effort from afar--they have seemed to somewhat lack in seasons past. It was an intense game, and a whole lot of fun.

While this was a big win, I'm not ready to say that Troy is going to return to form this season in terms of their final record. My hopes were definitely raised considerably, but I'm trying to be realistic. If they continue to commit penalties and turnovers at crucial moments, it'll eventually bite them. Also, the schedule continues to be tough. Win or lose, though, I think they're going to be a lot of fun to watch.

There were a couple of surprises in the game as well. For one, the coaching staff called a timeout toward the end of the first half for clock management purposes. This may not seem like a big deal, but this type of strategy has seemed to be beyond the capabilities of our coaches for quite some time. The biggest surprise of the night, though, was when Troy's offense came out in a shotgun formation. For as long as Steve Nolan has been Troy's coach (which is a long time), the base offense has been a variation of the Wing-T and run-heavy almost to the exclusion of the pass. That's still the case for the most part, but he does seem to be mixing it up at least a little. I've joked about seeing our offense line up in shotgun for years, and tonight it finally happened. My friends Amy and Doug nearly had to go for the defibrillator to restart my heart.

That was also the case after that last pass fluttered harmlessly to the ground. Troy (1-0) plays next Friday at Centerville.

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