Troy senior linebacker JJ McCoy and his defensive teammates believe in two things.
“We talk about takeaways every single day,” he said. “The best way to get them is to just swarm to the ball. That’s how we like to play.”
Troy turned four Sidney turnovers into 17 points Thursday night, gang-tackled repeatedly and controlled the game from start to finish for a 23-6 Miami Valley League victory in Troy.
The swarming style of defense started after a 28-7 loss to Piqua three weeks ago, coach Dan Gress said. The new identity has led to three straight wins for the Trojans (3-2, 3-1).
“They are just swarming and causing chaos,” Gress said, “and when we swarm like that, we make it tough on defenses to drive the field because something’s going to happen. The way they run to the football — and that’s just effort — we’ve got to continue that.”
McCoy led the defensive effort with three sacks and a fumble recovery that stopped a Sidney drive near midfield in the second quarter.
“JJ’s a nice player who plays on and off the ball,” Gress said, “and he made a lot of great plays, especially on the ball of being able to rush the quarterback. He’s definitely someone offenses have to account for.”
Both teams are playing with new quarterbacks since they played Piqua. Troy senior Josh Mayfield suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder on a tackle late in the Piqua loss. He had surgery and is out for the season. Donnie Stanley, a junior, is the new quarterback and completed 5 of 10 passes for 35 yards.
“Donnie’s been waiting, and he’s stepped in and really took control of the offense,” Gress said. “I really don’t think we could ask him to do a better job than he’s done so far.”
Sidney is without senior Donavin Johnson, who entered the week as the league’s second-leading passer. He injured a groin in last week’s loss to Piqua and his return date is unknown. Filling in is wide receiver E.J. Davis, who was 5 of 11 for 80 yards and got loose for a couple good runs.
Credit: Jeff Gilbert
Credit: Jeff Gilbert
For Sidney (2-4, 2-3), however, it was a second straight bad start. Troy’s Wyatt Smith intercepted a long Davis pass near midfield in the second quarter. Troy drove for a 21-yard field goal by Jack Kleinhenz.
Then the Trojans’ Eli Smith recovered a fumble on a bad shotgun snap at Sidney’s 15. Will Wolke ran 15 yards up the middle on the next play for a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Davis hit freshman Julius Spradling on a long pass late in the first half to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Myles Vordemark and a 10-6 halftime score.
“The last two weeks we have not started off well, and we’re not putting ourselves in good position to have success,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “But as usual the kids face adversity and we battled back and went into halftime with a little bit of momentum.”
But Troy’s defense stopped them cold in the second half, including on fourth down and less than a yard at the Troy 31-yard line in the third quarter.
“We’ve definitely become way more disciplined,” McCoy said. “We’ve been able to hold our edge a lot better, and we’re just better with our assignments.”
Troy’s offense responded with its best drive. It took a 17-6 lead when Jahari Ward broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on a seven-yard touchdown run. Ward added a two-yard touchdown late in the game after Kristifer Williams returned an interception from midfield to the Sidney four.
“We told the boys we’re playing old-fashioned football,” Gress said of a game in which neither team could quite amass 200 yards of offense. “We felt like we were in control of the game, our defense was playing very well, but we found ourselves in a one-score ballgame. So we challenged the boys at halftime, and they took it upon themselves to make sure we didn’t let up and give them a chance.”
Troy outgained Sidney 183-155. Nick Kawecki led Troy with 85 rushing yards on 17 carries. Martez Harris led Sidney with 44 rushing yards on 14 carries.
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