Let's get this out of the way: yes, Wayne played without Braxton Miller, their star quarterback, who was held out of the game with a leg injury. However, the Trojans came into the game so hampered by injuries all over the field that I'd be hard pressed to say that one team held an advantage over the other in that regard. Even with Miller out, I don't think you'd have found many people who expected Troy to win this game. Shameless homer that I am, even I didn't see this coming.
Offensively, this game looked, for the most part, like all the others have this year, with the exception of the Xenia game. The Trojans struggled to move the ball, and the coaches went with a conservative gameplan early on so they could work on field position and keep the defense out of bad spots as much as possible. The lone touchdown Troy was able to put up in the first half came as the result of a Wayne turnover in their own territory followed by a 30-yard desperation heave into the endzone by Troy QB Greg Yahle as time expired. Fortunately, receiver Ian Dunaway came down with the ball in the corner of the endzone, sending the Trojans into the locker room with a 7-6 lead due to a missed extra point on Wayne's TD early in the second quarter.
The exception to Troy's offensive woes came in the form of a 21-play, 95-yard, 10:32 drive to finish up the third quarter and eat up most of the fourth. Fullback Chris Basil was a beast on that drive, churning his legs, pushing the pile, and trucking defenders over as he moved the Trojans forward bit by bit. Wayne did their part too, keeping the drive alive at one point by roughing the passer. When the drive was finally over, the Trojans had a 14-6 lead with just 3:52 left in the game.
Where this game was won, though, was on defense. No matter how much praise is lavished on the Troy defense for this one, it isn't enough. Wayne was able to move the ball, especially running out of their spread formations, but Troy's D was able to step up and make plays when it counted. After the Trojans took a 14-6 lead, a long kickoff return put the Warriors in good position, and they were able to take the ball down the field and score. However, the Trojan defense stepped up and stuffed Wayne's ball carrier short of the goal line on their 2-point conversion attempt with 1:56 left. There was some drama after that, but that pretty much sealed the win right there. And what a win it was.
This was a fantastic game to watch. Not because it was pretty - it wasn't - but because it was so close and hard fought. I remember watching a few years ago as Troy lost to Fairborn on a last-second, on-in-a-million hail-mary pass; this was the complete opposite of that. What a huge win, and a huge confidence boost for a young group, to take down a team that has been one of the best in the Dayton area over the past several years.
The Trojans are now 2-3 halfway through the season (and where did that time go? I swear, football season goes by faster and faster each year) and heading into play in the GWOC North. Next week they'll host the Vandalia Butler Aviators (1-4) at Troy Memorial Stadium as they look to carry some momentum from this win into the rest of the season. While there certainly aren't any "easy" games remaining, there aren't any teams like Centerville or Wayne left the rest of the way, either. It'll be very interesting to see where these young Trojans go from here.