The day of the Troy-Piqua football game is, more than any other day of the year, the day that makes me want to be back in Troy. I'd love to be there for the week leading up to the game, soaking up the displays of spirit and the buildup of emotion that permeate the entire area. In the past, I've blown off an entire Friday of classes or taken the day off work so I could be in Troy the night before the game for the bonfire. Then I'd get to the stadium plenty early on Friday afternoon to ensure I'd get a good seat for the game (a practice that is no longer wholly necessary now that Piqua's home games are no longer played at seat- and parking-deficient Wertz Stadium but which is still fun).
Alas, this year, my normal routine was not to be. Today was the deadline for our November catalog, so I had to be at work on Friday to take care of last-minute changes and details. Still, I was planning to get everything done so I could at least leave early and get into Troy well before kickoff. I felt I would be in good shape if I could leave by 3:30, and it looked early on like I would be able to get out well before then. I was planning to forego my lunch break in order to finish up the last little bit of the catalog; it seemed like I could finish up and be on my way around 1:00 or so. Unfortunately, as it approached noon, the head of our graphics department came over to me with an urgent project that had to be finished by the end of the day. Not only did I not leave at 1:00 (I ended up taking a lunch break after all), but I couldn't leave early at all. I was there until 5:00, just like always. Of course, being Troy-Piqua day, I had a hard time focusing on what I was doing, but at least I managed to get everything done on time.
Fortunately, Amy got to the stadium early and saved me a seat, and she also got tickets in advance. I can only imagine where I would have ended up if I had arrived at the stadium at 7:00 with no ticket and no saved seat. I've stood by the fence surrounding the field before and I'd do it again, but I'm really glad I didn't have to.
The game itself, the 121st meeting of the two teams, was highly frustrating. It was a good game in that it was extremely close and exciting throughout, but it was also sloppy. This was not a case of two teams playing well and giving each other their best shots. This was two teams shooting themselves in the foot and just seeing which would outlast the other. In the end, Troy made more mistakes in more crucial situations than Piqua did, and that was the ballgame. Troy's mistakes included: a dropped pass in the endzone, an interception in the end zone, a missed field goal, a missed extra point, and a blocked field goal which would have given them the lead near the end of the game. They also committed penalties in bad spots to contribute to ending promising drives. Give Piqua credit (as much as I hate to); their defense toughened up in the second half and made it extremely difficult for the Trojans to do anything. Troy drove into Piqua's territory several times but only managed to score one touchdown. Had they been able to produce something on even one of these drives, this game would have had a different outcome.
This one hurts because I really thought (and still think) that Troy was the better team in general, although Piqua definitely played better. It's always hard to "wait until next year" to avenge a loss to Piqua. What really hurts, though, is that this loss almost definitely puts the Trojans out of the playoff picture. Two losses will be tough to overcome in the ultra-competitive Cincinnati region even if they manage to win out the rest of the way (no small task with Northmont looming in week ten).
Next week the Trojans (now 5-2) play their final road game of the season as they travel north to take on Sidney (2-5). I like Sidney's new stadium a whole lot, so I'm looking forward to the game for that reason if nothing else. The Yellowjackets should provide the Trojans the ability to bounce back from a tough loss to their rivals; it shouldn't be much of a game.