TROY — Troy defensive lineman Devon Strobel was the MVL’s Defensive Athlete of the Year for a reason.
And he came up big in a critical juncture again Friday night.
With Troy leading 22-15 midway through the third quarter, Strobel came up with a big blocked punt to spark 20 unanswered points for the Trojans in a 42-15 win over Lima Senior in D-II, Region 8 second round action.
Troy, 11-1, will play 11-1 Cincinnati Withrow at Welcome Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday in the regional semifinals.
Lima Senior closes the season at 9-3.
Troy had taken a 22-15 halftime lead and that was where the score stood when Strobel blocked a Spartan punt and Parker Nichols recovered it at the Lima 11-yard line.
Dakota Manson dove in front two yards out and Cameron Stoltz’s PAT kick made it 29-15.
After Creighton Verceles recovered a fumble at the Troy 49-yard line on Lima’s next possession, it took the Trojans just two plays to get into the end zone.
Following a one-yard run by Manson, Logan Ullery went 50 yards down the Troy sideline for a touchdown to make it 35-15.
Hunter Sekas would score from two yards out and Stoltz would add the PAT kick for the final margin.
The two teams had gone back-and-forth in the opening half.
Troy put together a 45-yard drive late in the first quarter to get on the board.
Aidan Gorman caught an 18-yard pass from Aiden Kirkpatrick to move the ball down to the seven-yard line.
On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Strobel would find the end zone and Stoltz’s kick made it 7-0.
Lima would answer with a 10-play, 68-yard drive.
Chance Sanders caught a 21-yard pass from Janiaus Hall and on first down from the 25-yard line, Kaliq Wash caught a a TD pass in the right corner of the end zone.
Emmanuel Jokinen-Rutz kicked the PAT to tie the game 7-7 with 9:16 remaining in the first half.
Lima was driving again when Troy’s Antonio Gonzalez got the first of his two interceptions on the night at the Troy 14-yard line.
The Trojans went 86 yards in five plays to regain the lead.
After an eight-yard run by Gorman and a 10-yard run by Gage Kawecki, Manson exploded on a 25-yard TD run and Strobel ran for the two-point PAT to make it 15-7 with 6:14 remaining in the half.
Another Lima drive was ended by a Verceles interception, but Troy fumbled on the next play and Lima’s J’sean Hicks recovered at the Troy 6-yard line.
On the next play, Hall connected with Isaiah Wilson for the touchdown and Sanders caught the two-point PAT to tie it at 15 on a double pass from Mari Doughty with 3:06 remaining in the half.
Troy then put together a 57-yard drive in nine plays.
Kirkpatrick had a big 23-yard run on third-and-seven to move the ball down to the Lima 31-yard line.
Manson took over from there.
He had a 10-yard run on third and 13 and followed it with a 12-yard run on fourth-and-three.
From the 12-yard line, he ran it twice, scoring from the seven-yard line with 16 seconds remaining in the half. Stoltz’s PAT kick made it 22-15 at the break before Strobel’s block gave Troy the momentum for good as the Trojans finished the game with 27 unanswered points.
Manson had a monster game with 234 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Kawecki added 51 yards on 11 carries.
Caleb Akins and Cam’ron Couch both forced fumbles for the defense and Nathan Wyatt recovered one.
Verceles and Jayden Hackney led the defense with six tackles each.
Hall completed 24 of 46 passes for 244 yards for Lima.
Sanders caught seven passes for 66 yards and Doughty caught three passes for 54 yards.
Zaevon Garner had five catches for 49 yards.
Jaylen Jones had 14 tackles, including 13 solo tackles and three tackles for loss.
J’sean Hicks and Cam-ron Hicks had six tackles each.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]