By: Matt Beltz | Towanda Daily Review | October 27, 2012 | Photo courtesy Matt Beltz
HUGHESVILLE - Troy's well-oiled option offense hit the road on Friday to Hughesville to take on a Spartans team that has struggled this season but one that usually presents a challenge to running teams with its sizable defensive line.
That size proved to be no issue for Troy's attack as the Trojans ran all over Hughesville, going for 515 yards on the ground, including 273 from quarterback Jed Wright, as Troy topped the Spartans 58-26. Troy, which has already clinched a District 4 AA playoff berth, remains in the hunt for a top four seed and a home game in the first round at 7-2 heading into next week's rivalry game against Canton.
"In our scheme, it works out because we don't block linemen and that's what we've done all year is run the ball. That's who we are and that's what we have to do to be successful," said Troy coach Jim Smith. "It's based off the quarterback's read so it depends on what the uncovered defensive guy does - his decisions are based off that. So, actually bigger (defensive) fronts are kind of set up for us better against smaller fronts."
Hughesville put up respectable numbers offensively as they posted over 200 yards on the ground itself and over 300 for the game while also only committing one turnover, but in the end, were not able to stop Troy on defense. Troy scored on all five of its possessions in the first quarter and on its first six possessions of the game. About the only thing that stopped the Trojans in the game was the final horn as Troy came away with points on nine of its 11 possessions. They punted for the only time with under a minute to play before halftime after being stopped near midfield and only the clock running out at the end of the game prevented Troy from scoring on its other empty possession. Further illustrating how well Troy's offense functioned on Friday, Troy had 20 plays of more than 10 yards, including 12 that Wright was a part of and including 11 plays of 20 yards or more, of which Wright was involved in eight.
"This was a good test for us coming down here. This team has played an awful tough schedule and I knew the kids would be playing hard and they did, so I'm happy for them," said Smith.
"They've been running the ball against everybody this year and we knew that coming in so I wasn't shocked at it" said Hughesville coach Andy Brown. "You have to play disciplined option responsibilities against them and we struggled with that and weren't always where we needed to be and if you do that against a good team that runs the option like they do, that happens. We just weren't crashing down on the edge to take the quarterback, that was all there was to it."
Troy went up early 13-0 as it racked up 125 yards in 10 plays on its first two drives. The Trojans actually scored all the points they would need to win the game in the first quarter alone as Wright racked up 147 of his 273 yards in the opening period.
Kris Newman electrified the Spartan home crowd as he broke loose for a 90-yard kickoff return to cut the Troy lead in half midway through the quarter. Troy answered with a Josh McClaren field goal to go up 16-7 but the Spartans then put together their second big play of the night as Clint Snyder hauled in a short pass from Logan Henry before breaking a couple of tackles and going 80 yards down the right sideline to pull the Spartans within three at 16-13. But Hughesville had no answer for the Trojans' option as they went 63 yards in 1:52 on their ensuing possession to take a 10-point lead and then capitalized on the only turnover of the game, a Logan Henry interception and scored another touchdown in just two plays after taking possession at the Hughesville 33 to go up 30-13. Five of Troy's nine scoring drives took under two minutes.
The Spartans thought they had stopped Troy for the first time on the evening on the Trojans' first possession of the second quarter but a running into the kicker penalty on a missed field goal gave Troy a first down at the Spartan 17 and three plays later, Brandon Mattocks went 15 yards for a score to put Troy up 37-13. Six different players scored touchdowns for Troy on the evening.
Hughesville was then able to put together an impressive nine-play drive to open the second half, capped by Alec Walter's 11-yard run to cut the lead to 17 at 37-20. But once again, the Spartans had no answer for Wright, who went 24 yards and then 43 yards for a touchdown on Troy's ensuing drive to put Troy back up 44-20 and after a Hughesville punt, put a cap on his evening by tossing a five-yard touchdown to Chris Westerfer to make it a 31-point Troy advantage. McClaren then got in on the end zone action as he wrapped up the Trojan scoring midway through the fourth quarter with a one-yard run. He ended the night with 16 points scored off his touchdown, field goal and seven PATs.
Troy, which entered Friday's game in position for a road game in the first round of the district playoffs, will now look to not only get into the top four in the AA rankings, which may take some help in addition to win next week, but also pick up a win against rival Canton.
"Next week is an awful big game for us, it's a rivalry game that we haven't won in a handful of years," said Smith. "They (Canton) are going to show up and give us a game, I guarantee it. I think if we play responsible football, we can play with anybody. We just want to win and let the chips fall where they may (for the playoffs) and go in with confidence either way."