It's not often that a football team will change their whole offensive scheme and philosophy halfway through the season, so when Troy opened the game in a no-huddle shotgun spread offense--the antithesis of the Wing-T offense they've been running since Coach Nolan came to town in 1984--I knew it was only temporary. Still, it was something I've wanted to see for quite some time, as an occasional change of pace to throw the defense off (and hey, it just might work on its own accord, too), so it was pretty cool. And it definitely succeeded in loosening up Butler's defense. The Trojans switched back to the Wing-T after the first series ended with a punt, but they were able to run pretty much at will on the Aviators after that.
It's a good thing it worked out that way, too, because this game was a struggle from start to finish. The Aviators were much tougher than I thought they would be, particularly given that their starting halfback, Logan Zechar, broke his ankle last week and was out for this game and will be for the rest of the season. Still, they had a more-than-adequate replacement in Andy Baughman, who shredded the Trojans' previously stout run defense for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries. Combined with a decent passing attack, Butler gave Troy's defense fits, especially in the first half. The Trojans were able to lock them up somewhat in the second half, allowing just one offensive touchdown.
This was a great game for the Trojans. The defense showed that it can step up and make plays when it needs to, even on a night when the other team's offense is in the zone. It was also another great night for the offense, which tallied 452 rushing yards--232 on 21 carries (and 2 touchdowns) for fullback Dustin Messer, as well as 153 yards and 2 TDs on 22 carries for halfback Corey Brown. They also showed that they can get some things done through the air. Quarterback Scott Zink attempted a season-high ten passes, completing six of them for 117 yards, including a beautiful 68-yard touchdown strike to wideout Wendell Ford, who torched his defender and caught the ball perfectly in stride on his way into the endzone.
I have to give Vandalia a lot of credit--they're well coached, and they came through some adversity to provide a stern test for the Trojans. It was a fantastic game on a great night for it. The weather was perfect for high school football, and the stadium was jam-packed. The home stands were full, the pathetically tiny visitors' stands were full, and the fence around the field was lined with the overflow. I love being at games like that. The atmosphere was incredible.
It doesn't get any easier for the Trojans from here. This coming Friday they travel to Clayton to take on the 4-2 Northmont Thunderbolts, who were state-ranked as of last week. Of course, on Friday they lost to the previously winless Sidney Yellowjackets. Northmont's standout quarterback Clay Belton has been out for the past two games (both losses) with a broken thumb, and he isn't expected to play against Troy. Either way, Northmont is still a dangerous team, and the Trojans can't afford to look past them. There are a lot of computer points on the line in this one, as well as each team's standing in the conference.
Did I See What I Just Saw?