By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
GREENVILLE — For the second week in a row, the Troy football team’s offense got off to a slow start.
And for the second week in a row, big plays on defense turned that around.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, the Troy defense stuffed Greenville on a fourth-and-1 in Trojan territory, and that kick-started the offense to the tune of 35 unanswered points as the Trojans routed the Miami Valley League Miami Division rival Green Wave 35-7 Friday night in Greenville to cap off a three-game road trip.
“That’s great to see, making that big defensive stop,” Troy coach Dan Gress said. “I feel like in every game, we’ve been so close — it’s a missed tackle, it’s a tipped ball going through our hands into theirs — and then we finally are able to step up and make that stop and start heading in the right direction towards being the kind of defense we want to be.”
The Trojans limited the Wave to 183 total yards on the night, 139 passing and only 44 rushing. Tyler Beyke, who entered the night tied for first in passing touchdowns and second in yardage in the MVL Miami, was held to a 9 for 18 night with a pair of interceptions and only one score as the Troy defense sacked him four times and kept the heat on him all night.
“The boys did a great job,” Gress said. “We gave them a very simple plan in our terms and said ‘just go be ballplayers and execute.’ And the boys did such a good job of taking that to heart. We knew they had a great passing game and that we had to stop the pass.”
Troy quarterback Brayden Siler used that to get Troy going on the other side of the ball, finishing with 149 yards and three touchdowns on 21 rushes and going 5 for 10 passing for another 75 yards and two more scores — with both of those passing touchdowns coming on fourth-down plays.
“Our defense, they provided the energy for us tonight,” Siler said. “We came out and weren’t electric like we should have been. But they gave us the spark we needed, and we feed off of each other. When they’re playing well, we’re playing well.”
Troy’s opening possession of the game stalled on a fourth-and-3 from Greenville’s 40-yard line, but the Trojan defense forced a quick three-and-out — and a punt that hung up in the wind only traveled four yards, letting the Trojans take back over at Greenville’s 47-yard line.
On third-and-9, though, Greenville’s Marcus Wood took the ball out of Austin Stanaford’s hands on a jump ball, giving the ball back to the Wave on the 20. Greenville began to move after that, but on second-and-10 from the 41, lightning flashed in the distance and the game was delayed with 5:03 remaining in the first quarter.
The delay was all that could slow the Wave down on that drive, though, as quarterback Tyler Beyke hit John Butsch on a quick hitch along the left sideline, and Butsch broke a series of tackles and then broke free for a 40-yard touchdown reception to put Greenville up 7-0 with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
After another quick three-and-out by the Troy offense, Greenville began to drive again but faced a fourth-and-1 from the Troy 27-yard line. Austan Good took down Conner Mills behind the line, though, to force a turnover on downs — and that was the jump-start that Troy needed.
Siler had back-to-back runs for 30 yards to get the ball into Greenville territory, then Walters had a pair of 6-yard runs and caught a 16-yard screen pass to set Troy up with first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. A penalty pushed the Trojans back to the 14, but Siler took a run up the middle and weaved his way into the end zone to put Troy on the board. Greenville blocked the extra point, though, and maintained a 7-6 lead with 6:05 left until halftime.
The Trojan defense forced a three-and-out, and another bad punt gave Troy possession at Greenville’s 40-yard line. Six plays later, Siler burst through the middle of the line again on a 9-yard touchdown run, then he hit Austin Stanaford with a two-point pass to give the Trojans a 14-7 lead with 1:38 on the clock, and that’s where things remained at halftime.
Troy’s defense took over in the second half. Greenville went for it on fourth-and-8 from Troy’s 37-yard line, but an incompletion turned it over on downs to open the third. Troy went three-and-out, but a sack of Beyke and an interception by Elijah Atkins gave the ball back to the Trojans on the Greenville 24. And on fourth-and-10, Siler hit Austin Stanaford with a 24-yard touchdown pass, making the score 21-7 Troy with 3:17 left in the third.
Another sack forced Greenville to punt, giving Troy the ball on its own 44. Eight plays later, Siler ran the ball in from nine yards out, stretching over the goal line to score his third rushing touchdown of the night and make the score 28-7 with 9:57 left in the game.
An interception by Weston Smith cut Greenville’s next possession short and gave the Trojans the ball at their own 46, and they marched it 54 yards in nine plays, with Siler tossing another fourth-down touchdown pass, this time to A.J. Heuker for 18 yards to make the score 35-7 with 3:29 on the clock.
“I don’t think of it as clutch moments — you’ve got to go out and do your best every single play,” Siler said. “And when we have receivers on the outside like we do — tall, athletic, ball hunters — I just throw it up to them and they’ll go make the play. I’ve got faith in them every single play.”
“I don’t know if we’ve ever played well here in the first half since I’ve been at Troy,” Gress said. “They have a winning season going, their coach has done a great job with them, and they have some playmakers. So to go into the half up 14-7 and then not let them stay in the game, that was good to see, because we’ve kind of let teams hang around this season.”
The Trojans improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the MVL Miami, with all three of those wins coming against division opponents. Greenville, meanwhile, fell to 3-2 and 2-1 in the MVL Miami. The Greenville loss leaves Troy and archrival Piqua tied for the division lead at 3-0 after the Indians’ 14-7 win over Butler Friday.
“It’s great. We’ve just got to focus on every game from here on out,” Siler said. “We can’t look at the big picture. You’ve just got to focus on what’s in front of you.
Troy hosts Stebbins in its first MVL crossover matchup in Week 6.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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