By David Fong
TROY — A smothering defense and an opportunistic offense was the difference Thursday night, Aug. 31 at Troy Memorial Stadium as Troy defeated Xenia 28-6 in a game televised live across the Miami Valley.
With the win, Troy improved to 1-1, while Xenia fell to 0-2.
Troy forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and took over near midfield to start the game, but a drive stalled deep in Xenia territory and the Trojans turned the ball over on downs.
Not that it much mattered, however, as two plays later, Boyer intercepted the first of his two passes, picking off Xenia quarterback Johnny Shampton Jr. and returning it to the Buccaneer 32. On the very next play, junior running back Jayden Culp-Bishop — filling in for injured starter Shane Shoop — broke free on a 32-yard touchdown run. Brayden Siler booted the extra point, giving Troy a 7-0 lead, its first of the season.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Xenia got the ball moving on its lone extended drive of the first half. Long runs by Shampton and Corey Burnette Jr. helped the Buccaneers get the ball to the Trojan 26. On second down, however, Boyer intercepted his second pass of the half, picking off a pass in the Trojan end zone.
Other than that drive, however, Troy’s defense completely shut down Xenia’s triple-option offense, forcing nine plays that went for negative yards in the first half. Star receiver Meechi Harris was held without a reception in the first half. Following Boyer’s second interception, Troy drove the length of the field for its second score. Harris had one catch for 2 yards the entire game.
A 43-yard pass from Sam Coleman to Tucker Raskay and an 18-yard run by Culp-Bishop pushed the ball to the Bucs’ 10. The drive appeared on the verge of stalling, however, as the Trojans faced fourth-and-six on the Xenia 12. Coleman dropped back to pass and was pressured, but escaped the pocket and scampered 12 yards for a touchdown, putting the Trojans up 14-0.
Just before halftime, Boyer got his hands on the ball a third time — this time on offense — as Coleman hooked up with him on a crossing route on fourth down. Boyer split the Buccaneer defense right down the middle, streaking into the end zone to give Troy a 21-0 lead heading into halftime.
Troy may have kept Harris in check on offense, but he made his presence known on defense to start the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, he picked off a Coleman pass, returning it to the Troy 18-yard line. On the very next play, Sincere Wells took the ball around the right side of the line, rumbling all the way to the end zone. Troy blocked the extra kick, but Xenia had cut the Trojans’ lead to 21-6.
The Buccaneers nearly pulled to within a score on their next drive. After stopping a Troy drive at their own 26, Xenia drove nearly the length of the field while being aided by a horse collar, a facemask and a pass interference penalty. The Bucs drove down to the Troy 5-yard line, buy the Trojan defense stiffened. On fourth down, Xenia tried to pitch the ball wide, but the pitch went over the intended ball carrier’s head and Troy took over at its own 24.
That would be the last serious threat Xenia would mount on the night, as Troy’s defense shut down the Buccaneers the rest of the way. Troy’s defense held the Buccaneers to just 147 yards total offense and just 2 yards passing for the entire game. Aside from the one long drive, Troy’s defense stifled Xenia’s triple option.
The Trojans would ice the game late on a 16-yard touchdown run by Sam Jackson, who led the Trojans in rushing.