By David Fong
TROY — The last time the Troy football team started a season 2-0, Trojan coach Matt Burgbacher was still looking for his first head coaching job, Troy quarterbacks coach Tyler Wright was actually Troy’s quarterback and every member of the 2016 Trojan football team was in elementary school.
That lengthy drought came to an end Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium in front of a sizable home crowd as the Trojans defeated Cincinnati Northwest 31-14, giving Troy its first 2-0 start since 2008.
“This feels good,” Burgbacher said. “This was a hard-fought victory. There were a lot of things we were a little worried about coming in.”
Up 21-14 at halftime, the Trojans scored 1o unanswered points to open the second half and played lockdown defense the final 24 minutes put the game away.
Troy took the second half kickoff and promptly went 65 yards in 11 plays, capping off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Hayden Kotwica, who threw for more than 250 yards and rushed for more than 100 yards in the game.
“Hayden had a good game, but he can’t do it alone,” Burgbacher said. “Our offensive line did an outstanding job blocking for him.”
Northwest — which refused to give up all night — drove down to the Trojan 6-yard line, but the Trojan defense forced a fumble, which linebacker John Wehrkamp recovered. With running back Marc Scordia leading the way, Troy drove nearly the length of the field, capping off the drive with a 29-yard field goal by Jake Anderson, effectively icing the game.
Early on, the game appeared to have the makings of a blowout win for the Trojans.
Troy jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. After the defense stopped Northwest on the opening drive, the Trojans took over at their own 18 and went 82 yards on 10 plays, with Kotwica and Josh Browder both picking up chunks of yards on long runs. Troy capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Sam Jackson.
The Trojans would score much quick on their second drive when Kotwica hooked up with Sam Coleman on a 65-yard touchdown pass. Jake Anderson booted the extra point, giving Troy a 14-0 lead.
In the first half alone, Kotwica completed 10 of 13 passes for 195 yards. Coleman had four catches for 94 yards in the first half alone.
Troy looked to be on the verge of turning the game into a blowout on its next drive. With the offensive line of Travis Hall, Dylan Sedam, Rase Darrow, Drew Smith and Kameron Block clearing the way, the Trojans drove to the Knights’ 1-yard line, only to fumble the ball.
Northwest’s Greg Jackson made the Trojans pay soon after with an 83-yard touchdown run, essentially a 14-point swing in the game.
Troy would extend the lead to 21-7 when Browder scored from 1 yard out on a drive that was kept alive by a 30-yard Kotwica pass to Spencer Klopfenstein on fourth-and-15.
Again, though, Northwest answered when Brandon Shelton hooked up with Ronnell Turner on a 56-yard touchdown pass with 1:02 to play in the first half, cutting Troy’s lead to 21-14 going into halftime.
Other than those two plays, the Trojans dominated the Knights in the first half.
“We were a little dejected at halftime, but we handled that adversity and came out and played well in the second half,” Burgbacher said. “You’ve got to go out and win the second half and that’s what we did.”
Although the Trojans are 2-0 and off to their best start in nearly a decade, Burgbacher is far from satisfied.
“We’ve still got to take things one game at a time,” he said. “We’ll enjoy this, but we’ve got to come back Monday and get ready for a good Bellefontaine team.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong.