Friday, October 30, 2015

Piqua 26 Troy 7

First off—and let the record show that I've been harping on this from the very beginning and will continue to do so until it's a thing of the past, which will probably be never—this Great American Rivalry nonsense has got to go. With all due respect (and then some) to the U.S. Marine Corps, the sponsor of the event, this game doesn't need any hoopla it doesn't generate on its own. Yeah, it's cool that a player on each team gets a small scholarship, but that's the only real benefit I see. I hate seeing them pulled out of their pregame routine for recognition—and yes, I realize it happens too for Homecoming, Senior Night, etc., so if that were the end of it, I guess I could live with it. But what I really hate is all the postgame crap. This game doesn't need a trophy or an MVP. Get the kids off the field so they can celebrate/commiserate in the locker room. And yes, I feel the same way when it's Troy's kids dancing on Piqua's field instead of the other way around.

On the other hand, if I'm Troy coach Matt Burgbacher, I'm not sure it was the worst thing in the world to have your team take a respectful knee on the sidelines to watch the spectacle. If I'm him, I'm pointing at those kids in red and blue jumping up and down on the Trojan star and saying something to the effect of, "You like that? Remember how this feels. You want to avoid this feeling, you need to work harder and get better. Next year that's going to be us."

(Not that I think the Troy kids didn't or don't work hard. Still, you take your motivation where you can find it.)

The story on this night was Piqua's relentless, punishing ground game. Troy's defense kept it more or less in check for longer quite a while, but eventually they just got worn down. I have to give them a lot of credit, though—they kept fighting to the end, even when the game was pretty much decided. There was no quit in these kids.

The problem, really, was that they just spent so much time on the field (GWOC stats show Piqua with over 32 minutes of possession), and that's because Troy's offense just couldn't sustain drives (they had the ball for just over 15 minutes). They did some things here and there, and they were finally able to put a TD on the board late in the game to keep it from being a shutout, at least. Early in the game, it looked like they wanted to test Piqua's defense deep, and that looked like a good strategy as the Trojan receivers were torching their defenders with regularity. Unfortunately, QB Hayden Kotwica had a couple of overthrows, and even when he did hit them, his receivers had a case of the dropsies all night. And that was it, really. A few more catches, this is a different game; a closer game, at least.

And that's the season. These ten weeks always fly by, at least for me. As trying as the season was at times, I'd happily load up and make another trek next week for another game. Sadly, there are no more, at least for the Trojans. They finish the year at 2-8, dead last in the GWOC North with a 1-4 conference mark. They can pack their equipment away and start getting ready for basketball, while other teams (Piqua among them, it seems, as much as it pains me to say) gear up for the postseason. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the totality of the Trojan season and program in the coming days.

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