Friday, September 19, 2008

Wayne 35 Troy 16

This game was a tale of two halves. Unfortunately, the Trojans didn't show up in the first half, and time simply ran out on them in the second half. But, much like last week, losing this game doesn't reflect all that poorly on the Trojans - Wayne is a really good team.

In fact, I'd say this game reflected quite well on the Trojans. The result was unfortunate, of course, but consider that the Trojans were down 28-0 and being utterly dominated at halftime. It would have been all too easy for them to fold up the tents and give up. Instead, they kept their heads in the game and fought back. The guys were obviously 'up' on the sidelines, cheering each other on and pumping each other up. Loss aside, I was proud of them.

One play in particular that stood out was the PAT attempt after Troy's second touchdown. The snap was bad, making the hold impossible. But instead of the panic and chaos you normally see on a play like that, the holder (quarterback Tyler Wright) kept his cool, picked up the ball, rolled to his right, and found a man (Justin Bunch) in the endzone for a 2-point conversion. Talk about making the best of a bad situation.

The game was lost in the first half, though, when the Trojans were unable to score or to stop the Warriors from scoring. I think the game turned on one play, in fact, on the Trojans' first drive of the night, before either team had scored. Troy faced a 4th-and-5 on Wayne's 35, and the decision was made to punt. They had been moving the ball, and going for it in that situation seems like a no-brainer. Convert the first down and get some points on that drive, and this is a different ballgame. Instead, they punted into the endzone, giving Wayne the ball at the 20 and gaining only 15 yards; and Wayne drove downfield and scored their first TD of the night.

Indeed, the playcalling was curious throughout that tragic first half. It looked to me like the Trojans were out-thinking themselves, trying to do too much. While the balanced offense has worked well for the Trojans through the season to this point, on this night the run game was working well and the passing game was not. It just seemed like Troy's coaches were intent on maintaining that balance instead of going with what was working. When they did finally go almost exclusively to the run in the second half, Matt Allen and Tyler Wright started gashing the Wayne defense for big yardage and TDs.

Again, though, I want to be sure to credit Wayne. They're a good team, and they did the things they needed to do when they needed to do them. I'm not saying Troy would have won even if they had played a better game in the first half; just that it would have been a different game. Troy's offense, even now, is not optimal for big comebacks, and that 28-0 halftime deficit really put them behind the eight-ball.

Oh, and a couple of newspaper reports on the game mentioned that 'eyewitnesses' reported that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel may have been at the game. I can't say that he was or wasn't, but I can say that if these eyewitnesses saw the same guy I did, I'm about 95% sure it wasn't him, unless he looks a fair bit heavier in person than he does on TV. If it wasn't him, the guy in question sure went to great pains to look like him - the hairstyle and glasses were at least similar, and he was wearing a red OSU sweater vest, gray slacks, and sneakers. But still, I got a good look, and I'm fairly certain it was not him.

So now the season is halfway over, and who can believe it? Time certainly seems to go by faster during this time of year than it does at any other. At any rate, the Trojans find themselves at 3-2 at the midway point, losers of two in a row. Thankfully, the two biggest tests of the season are now behind them. They'll look to get healthy in a big way this coming Friday as they take on the hapless Aviators of Vandalia Butler (0-5).

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