This one was a long time coming. Losing to Piqua four straight times makes each year feel like an eternity, especially when you realize that this is the first time Troy has beaten them since Steve Nolan was the head coach, and that we're on our second coach since then.
There was a great buildup to this game, for the first time in a while. It's been a rare season lately when Troy and Piqua were both good at the same time. To come into this game with the league title on the line felt like the old GMVC days. Which is appropriate, since Troy hadn't won an outright league title since the old GMVC days--1998, in fact, which was Trojan legends Ryan Brewer and Kris Dielman's senior season. (And, on a sidenote, if you had told me in 1998 that Troy wouldn't have another league title to itself until 2016, I would have thought you were absolutely insane...especially if you had also told me that Trotwood would be the dominant team in the meantime.) But the luster was back on this year for sure, as an announced crowd of 9,700+ piled into Piqua's Alexander Stadium on a beautiful night to watch this one unfold.
Mostly what I was worried about going into this one was turnovers, as Troy had gotten a little sloppy with the ball in their past couple of matchups, although it didn't end up hurting them in the end. The Trojans did end up turning the ball over a couple of times late in the game, but they actually came out ahead in the turnover game. They recovered a Piqua fumble on the opening kickoff and turned it into three points, which they then turned into a 10-0 lead that they would never lose. Piqua was able to run the ball pretty much at will in the first half (tailback Ben Schmiesing was an impressive runner), but the Trojans held on for a 16-14 halftime advantage.
Troy received the kickoff to open the second half, and they came out on fire and blew Piqua's doors off. They scored three touchdowns in the third quarter's first five minutes, and that was your ballgame, especially as the defense tightened up and shut Piqua out for the entire half. The way they ended up dominating their rivals was quite satisfying.
So! The series with Piqua now stands at 63-63-6 after 132 meetings. Troy has won the GWOC North championship and goes into the playoffs as the #1 seed in their region with a 9-1 record. That earns them the right to host their first-round game, which will be against the #8 seed, Cincinnati Anderson (7-3). They will bring with them a potent quick-strike offense and a porous defense, so it'll be something the Trojans haven't really seen yet this year. And! The game will kick off at 7:30, rather than the customary 7:00, so that's a bright spot for me.