Two years ago, Troy and Piqua both fielded young teams led mainly by sophomores. Piqua finished that year at 3-7; Troy went through some highs and lows on their way to a 5-5 record, just missing the playoffs. People on both sides pointed to the looming contest in 2011 as one that would be for the ages, when both teams’ green sophomores would be scarred and battle-tested seniors.
The difference in my eyes, at the time, was that Troy’s sophomores were pretty good players, whereas Piqua’s, as a group, were nothing to write home about. Granted, I saw nearly every down Troy played that season but just the one game for Piqua, so my judgment of their players was based on limited exposure. Still, the game results have borne out my initial thoughts: Troy 26 Piqua 0 (2009), Troy 27 Piqua 14 (2010); and Troy 27 Piqua 7 (2011).
This game always makes me nervous. Partially because Piqua is always so tough defensively even when they’re no great shakes in other facets of the game, partially because it’s a rivalry and they’re going to come in motivated and play with emotion, and partially because I feel like Coach Nolan always plays this game a little close to the vest (not entirely without reason). I started feeling it today around 2:00 and had a hard time concentrating for the rest of the day, despite having quite a bit to do.
The game did feature a few tense moments, but they were mostly on the other side of the field. After Piqua received the opening kickoff, their quarterback threw an interception on their third play from scrimmage. Troy drove down and scored, and that was pretty much that. The Indians were able to rack up some rushing yards on the Trojans, but the defense did a great job of bending without breaking. Piqua made some mistakes that contributed to that, of course, including a couple of bad snaps their quarterback couldn’t field—I was amazed when they continued to line him up in shotgun formation.
Any recap of this game would be incomplete without the mention of the 61-yard bomb Trojan QB Cody May threw to halfback Isaiah Williams in the first quarter. While it didn’t result (directly) in a touchdown—Williams stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line—it was a thing of beauty nonetheless, a perfect spiral that dropped directly into his hands as he streaked down the sideline. And Williams did score on the next play, a sweep around the left side.
Really, the story of the night was probably the injuries. On a long punt return by Troy’s Ian Dunaway, a Piqua defender got absolutely crushed on a block and spent several minutes on the turf before finally jogging off the field. Shortly thereafter, another Piqua defender went down in the endzone, eventually being strapped to a board and carted off. While he was being tended to, paramedics were also checking on an elderly fan in Troy’s stands who had to be wheeled out. I heard there were several other injuries to Piqua players as well, so it was a bit of a rough night in that regard. Hopefully everyone is all right.
After my issues with the size of the crowd last week for Vandalia Butler, there was no concern for this game. I was a little surprised the Piqua stands weren’t fuller than they were, but there was a fair crowd standing along the fence lining the field, as well as outside the stadium. I know the Troy side was pretty jam-packed. The announced (estimated) crowd was 10,487 (in a 10,000-seat stadium), so that’s pretty awesome.
This was Troy's fifth consecutive victory over Piqua, giving them a 62-59-6 lead in the all-time series between the two teams. They'll mix it up again next year on October 26, the last game of the season. Both teams will look drastically different next season, so there's no telling what that game will bring.
With the win, Troy moves to 6-1, setting up a game next week that will almost certainly determine the winner of the GWOC North Division as they travel to take on Trotwood-Madison (7-0).