TROY — The Troy football teams used a fast start and finish on offense — and in between, the defensive and special teams held Sidney at bay in a 23-6 Trojan victory Thursday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
It was Troy’s third straight win as the Trojans improved to 3-2 on the season and 3-1 in MVL play, with a big game with Tippecanoe looming Friday, while Sidney dropped 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the MVL.
“We are not hiding,” Troy coach Dan Gress said about the upcoming game with the Red Devils. “We will celebrate this a little bit tonight and then it is on to the next one.”
Troy got two early turnovers to immediately put Sidney in a 10-0 hole in the opening quarter.
On Sidney’s fifth play of the game, the Jackets faced a third-and-27 from its own 28-yard line.
On a play where the receiver fell down, Troy’s Wyatt Smith was able to pick off the pass and return it to the Sidney 47.
Troy faced a third-and-13 after two plays, but running back Nick Kawecki went 16 and 32 yards on back-to-back plays to move the ball to the Sidney eight-yard line and set up a 22-yard field goal by Jack Kleinhenz.
Then, on the first play following the kickoff, the ball was snapped over quarterback EJ Davis’ head and Elis Smith recovered at the Sidney 14-yard line.
Will Wolke then raced 14 yards and Kleinhenz’s kick made it 10-0 with 5:49 remaining in the opening quarter.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start,” Gress said. “Will (Wolke) is a guy we just have to get touchdes. After that our defense and special teams kind of took over. They helped flip the field for us a couple different times.”
After an exchange of punts, Sidney would fumble again on a big hit and JJ McCoy recovered at the Sidney 46, but Troy turned the ball over on downs.
Late in the first half, Sidney put a 65-yard drive together.
Davis started it with a 17-yard run.
He had a pass to Julius Spradling for 29 yards and Myles Vordemark ran it in from two-yards out with 59 seconds remaining.
The two-point PAT failed and Troy went to the locker room with a 10-6 lead after controlling much of the first half.
“That is what we told our kids at halftime,” Gress said. “We were doing the things we needed to do and to keep doing them.”
After a scoreless third quarter, which included a 41-yard punt by Kleinhenz, Troy finished off the win with two drives in the fourth quarter.
The Trojans put together a 69-yard drive with Jahari Ward taking it the final 41 yards, with runs of 11, 16, 7 and finally 7 yards for the touchdown. Kleinhenz’ PAT kick made it 17-6 with 11:14 remaining in the game.
After an exchange of punts, Troy’s Kristopher Williams would step in front of a Davis pass near midfield and return it to the three-yard line to seal the win for the Trojans.
“How fitting is that for the defense to make a play to finish it off,” Gress said. “I just love the way are defense was swarming to the ball and creating chaos. When we do that, that makes it tough (for the opponent).”
Three plays later, Ward barrelled into the end zone from three yards out. The PAT was blocked, making the final score 23-6.
“Jahari (Ward) just gives us a little different explosiveness when he runs with the ball,” Gress said. “He knows when he it is short-yardage play, he is going to get his number called.”
Troy quarterback Donnie Stanley was five of 10 passing for 37 yards.
Kawecki had 17 carries for 89 yards rushing and Ward added 46 yards on eight carries.
Davis completed five of 11 passes for 74 yards with two interceptions.
Sam Reynolds had three catches for 43 yards and Martez Harris had 49 yards rushing on 15 carries.
The Trojans were able to celebrate after the game with the Thursday Night Lights game trophy — now it’s on to Tippecanoe.