By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
SIDNEY — Four yards in a cloud of dust turned into five yards and then a monsoon Friday night.
On fourth-and-4 from the Sidney 5-yard line, Troy’s Kevin Walters plowed forward into a pile, and that pile was pushed all the way across the goal line by a horde of Trojans, the game-sealing touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the Trojans held on for a 19-7 victory Friday night at Sidney High School.
Immediately after Walters’ touchdown run, which came with 2:22 remaining in the game, the skies opened up and rained sideways onto the field, and the Troy defense was able to shut down Sidney on its final possession to close out its fourth straight win. After the game ended, Sidney (2-5, 1-3 Miami Valley League Valley Division) went running to the locker room, but the Trojans (6-1, 5-0 MVL Miami Division) remained on the field in the driving rain for their customary postgame huddle.
“This is high school football, and you only have so many games like this. We told the boys that you don’t have many moments like this in life,” a soaked Troy coach Dan Gress said after the game. “All I could think about was that team touchdown we had, where everyone kept pushing and pushing Kevin in, the rain is blasting you in the face, the sideline is going crazy. And all I could think was, ‘this is love right here.’”
Sidney’s last win against Troy was in 2015, a 52-28 victory. Last year’s 38-19 Troy victory was the closest game between the two teams during the Trojans’ three-game winning streak in the series. And both teams entered Friday’s game with prolific ground attacks, with the Yellow Jackets’ E.J. Davis leading the overall in rushing, and with Troy’s Walters and quarterback Brayden Siler both right behind him in second and third.
In the end, the Trojans piled up 301 yards on the ground — led by Walters’ second straight 200-yard game with 216 and two touchdowns on 31 carries — while limiting the Jackets to only 75 rushing yards and winning the total offense battle 376-144.
But none of those yards were as important as those final five to put in the clinching score, with all 10 of his teammates helping push Walters into the end zone.
“That’s the new rule in high school football — you’re allowed to push,” Gress said. “It used to be that they’d call it dead, no pushing. So every team now has been coached up to push the pile, and when you get those big lineman pushing and Kevin’s legs churning and the wide receivers and quarterback getting in on it, that’s what we love to see when we turn on film is that team effort.”
The entire game proved to be a similar kind of battle.
After both teams went three-and-out on the first possessions, Troy’s offense went to work, grinding out a 65-yard drive in 12 plays. Walters had seven carries for 41 yards on the drive, as well as a 15-yard pass reception from quarterback Brayden Siler. In the end, the Trojans faced fourth-and-goal from the Sidney 3-yard line, Walters punched it in for a 3-yard touchdown to give Troy a 6-0 lead with 2:43 remaining in the opening quarter.
After Troy’s defense forced another three-and-out, the Trojans took back over on their own 9 after a muffed punt return. Troy drove to midfield before a holding penalty stalled the drive, giving Sidney the ball on its own 20.
That’s when the Jacket offense got moving. Backup quarterback Cedric Johnson — starting in place of the injured Ryan Dunham — ran for the team’s first first down of the game, then on third-and-9, Johnson bought time by scrambling and hit an open Quamir Brown down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Brown had stepped out of bounds at the Troy 38, though, cutting the play short on a 33-yard gain. Three plays later, though, Johnson made sure that didn’t matter, hitting Lathan Jones with a 25-yard touchdown pass, with Hallie Truesdale’s extra point putting Sidney up 7-6 with 4:44 remaining in the first half.
Troy responded quickly, though. A fast seven-play, 65-yard drive ended with Siler hitting Josh Mayfield in stride for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The two-point try was unsuccessful, though, putting the Trojans back on top 12-7 with 1:33 until halftime. Sidney drove to midfield with roughly :30 remaining, but a sack by Austan Good sent the teams into the locker room.
Sidney went three-and-out to open the second half, but Troy’s ensuing possession stalled out with a turnover on downs at the Jacket 33-yard line. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sidney saddled it with a third-and-22 from the Troy 44-yard line, and Johnson threw an interception to Weston Smith to kill the drive — but a pair of personal fouls on the play pinned Troy all the way back at its own 5-yard line.
“Penalties killed our offense,” said Gress after Troy was penalized six times for 56 yards. “It was one of those games where Sidney was battling us hard — we felt in control, but then you’d look at the scoreboard and we’re up by five.”
Walters chewed up 55 yards on four carries to get Troy past midfield at the end of the third quarter, but a holding penalty eventually killed the drive at Sidney’s 32-yard line. The Troy defense forced fumbles which Sidney managed to recover on consecutive plays to force a three-and-out, though, and the Jackets were forced to punt, with Troy taking over on its own 32 with 6:49 to play.
Troy chewed up that 68 yards in 11 plays, with a measurement on third-and-1 on the 32-yard line going the Trojans’ way to keep the drive going. And on fourth-and-4 from the Jacket 5, Walters plunged forward — and the entire Troy team shoved him across the goal line to make the score 19-7 Troy with 2:22 to play. From there, the defense — and the sudden rainstorm — did the rest.
“We told the boys that you never have an easy game in Sidney,” Gress said. “They’re coached well, they play hard, the atmosphere is great — and then you throw in these weather conditions, as well.”
Troy returns home next week for another MVL crossover matchup against Fairborn to continue the final push to Week 10.
“We had a great first half of the year, but our final four games, which we just played the first one of, we’re not sugar-coating it to the boys,” Gress said. “Our goals are right there in front of us, but we’ve got to go earn it. It’s make it or break it in this final four-game push, and every opponent is tough.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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