Friday, September 09, 2016
Troy 41 Bellefontaine 36
What a game.
This was the one game on this year's schedule that I was looking forward to because it was somewhere I hadn't been before. Also, Bellefontaine is closer to Columbus than most places Troy plays, so that was a nice change for me. I didn't have to burn out of town the very minute I got off work at 5:00, and the ridiculous Columbus traffic snarls didn't really matter. I had plenty of time to get to the game well before kickoff.
It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me. Brandi and I moved into a new apartment last weekend, and actually, we're still in the process of moving. We're finishing that off tomorrow. It's been a really busy week at work; I traveled to Toledo yesterday for our catalog deadline, and I put in some extra hours over the course of the week. I had to make sure everything was finished, because I start two weeks of jury duty on Monday, and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to work during that time. So I've had plenty of tension in my life...and I could feel it all melt away as I got into the stadium and walked around the field to the visitors' stands.
And yet, with all of that said, as I watched Troy get absolutely torched by Bellefontaine's quarterback Dezmin Lyburtus as they fell behind 21-0 in the first half, I'd by lying if I said I didn't have some moments, all too common as I've followed the Trojans from Columbus over the past couple of seasons (in which they went 1-9 and 2-8), that I questioned why I keep doing this.
Fortunately, such moments are mostly fleeting. I'm an optimist at heart, and even after that dismal start, I was interested to see how the Trojans would respond. They did start to get it together a little bit as the second quarter wore on, but they nonetheless went into halftime facing a 28-7 deficit.
Troy looked like a completely different team in the second half. They received the kick and got their momentum rolling by driving for a score, cutting Bellefontaine's lead to 28-14. The real test, though, came on defense. Linebacker Shane Shoop came in to do yeoman's work in slowing down Lyburtus, and when they actually got a stop and then another score (28-20), that's when I started to feel like they had a shot at this one.
Then came the fourth quarter, which is when the game went insane. Troy's QB Hayden Kotwica busted off a long TD run on the very first play, and that tied the game. Bellefontaine turned the ball back over to the Trojans on their next drive, and Troy scored to take the lead, 35-28. There was still a ton of time left, but it was looking pretty good at that point. Even though the defense had tightened up, Lyburtus was just too good to be completely contained, though, and he was able to get another score with a minute and a half left. And no one was surprised when Bellefontaine decided to go for two. They got it. With 1:30 left, they led 36-35.
At that point it was already an incredible game, but it would have been such a heartbreaker as a Troy fan to see them come back from so far behind only to lose in that fashion. Happily, that was not to be. Kotwica hit tailback Josh Browder on a screen pass, and Browder--who had a coming out party as a really good back tonight--took it 50+ yards to the house. 41-36 Troy. They still had to play a minute of defense, and with the way the night had gone, it wasn't a sure thing, but they were able to hold on.
You just don't get games like this too often in high school football. It was incredible (and THAT is why I keep doing this). And as great as it was to see Troy get the win, you couldn't help but feel bad for the Bellefontaine kids, especially Lyburtus. He had a hell of a game--he almost managed to win the game by himself. I know he had to be crushed by the way it turned out. On my way out of the stadium, I joined a couple of Troy fans and a large contingent of Bellefontaine fans who waited to give their kids a hand on their way off the field.
So! The Trojans find themselves at 3-0, and who saw that coming? Admittedly, not me. Next week they go on the road again to take on the Fairborn Skyhawks (0-3). That's another "close" game from Columbus, so that's all good for me.
Oh, and one last thing I want to note. Because Brandi and I were busy with moving, I didn't get to go to last week's game, in which Troy hosted Cincinnati Northwest (and defeated them 31-14). However, thanks to Troy Community Radio, I was able to listen to the game. They did a great job on the play by play and I was really happy I got to listen since I couldn't be there, so I wanted to make sure I gave them a shout-out.