Let me start by saying this. Whatever disappointments this season has brought on--and there have been a slew of them--it has been an absolute joy to watch Miles Hibbler run. He has an incredible combination of speed, power, moves, and determination. Whether he's fighting just to make it back to the line of scrimmage or busting through and outrunning the entire secondary, he's been worth the price of admission each week. It's worth noting that he went over 1,000 yards with his first carry of the game tonight.
Now, with that said. Here's where this game turned: Troy scored to go up 20-14 with 1:18 left in the first half. Vandalia's kick returner muffed the kickoff, and the Trojans recovered, giving them great field position and a chance to score again before halftime...except they were called for holding, nullifying the turnover. The Aviators then took the ball down the field (aided by a terrible pass interference penalty that should have been called on the offense rather than the defense) and scored to take a 21-20 lead into the half. That's at least a seven-point swing, and possibly fourteen or fifteen, if Troy had been able to score instead.
Now, I watch a lot of football (just ask my wife), and I can't remember ever seeing holding called on a scrum for a fumble before. I can't imagine how egregious it had to be to be called on this particular play, but I will say that I didn't see it. So take that for whatever it's worth.
Anyway, even that aside, 21-20 shouldn't have been that big of a deal, but the offense didn't quite have the same punch in the second half that it did in the first. "This is a game Troy should have won" is a tired refrain by now. They couldn't get stops when they really needed them, and as great as Hibbler was (219 yards, 3 TDs, all 50-plus yards), it wasn't enough, even against an average-at-best Butler team.
And now it's time for Trotwood, the conference juggernaut for the past several seasons. I'm hoping against hope that the Trojans will be able to make a game of it, but at this point, I just haven't seen anything that makes me really believe that will be the case. The Rams have talent all over the field, and Troy just has too many shortcomings. I'd love to be wrong, but I have a bad feeling about this one coming up.