By David Fong
TROY — So much for a letdown.
One year after making the Division VII regional semifinals, the Troy Christian football team doesn’t look like it’s missed a beat as it opened the 2015 season with a 49-0 pounding of Lima Perry.
“We wanted to come out and play well and show we were still a team to be reckoned with,” Troy Christian coach Steve Nolan said. “Our kids came out and played well. We really executed well on both sides of the ball.”
Troy Christian needed exactly one play to show it was ready to pick up where it left off last year, as record-setting senior tailback Luke Dillahunt — who topped the 2,000-yard mark a year ago — took a buck sweep behind his offensive line and raced 53 yards for a touchdown, putting the Eagles ahead before the sun had even started to set on the other side of Interstate 75.
“He’s got some speed, he’s got good quickness and he’s got some moves,” Nolan said of Dillahunt. “He’s a good back and teams are still going to have to account for him.”
It was pretty much all Troy Christian from there as the Eagles scored four touchdowns on its six drives in the first half — one was thwarted by a fumble and the other when the second quarter came to an end.
By halftime, Troy Christian held a 28-0 lead — and the outcome was largely a foregone conclusion. Dillahunt sealed the deal with the second half kickoff, which he returned 85 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 35-0 lead and setting in motion a running clock, per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules.
Dillahunt would also would add a 35 yard touchdown run in the second quarter as he finished the first half with 11 carries for 147 yards.
Troy Christian quarterback Hayden Hartman was equally effective in the first half, completing all five of his pass attempts for 57 yards, including a pair of 20-yard touchdown strikes to Jacob Brown. He also had six carries for 28 yards in the first half.
“Hartman has looked really good the last month,” Nolan said. “Coming out of our instructional days he was a little sloppy, but he’s really taken off from there. He gives us another weapon — teams know they can’t just focus on Luke.”
When Troy Christian’s offense wasn’t pouring it, the Eagle defense was. In the first half, Troy Christian’s defense recorded four quarterback sacks and eight plays that went for zero or negative yards.
“Defensively, we are solid,” Nolan said. “Our secondary is actually better than it was last year. We looked really good back there.”
Following Dillahunt’s kickoff return, Lima Perry would put together a drive down to the Eagle 9 yard line, but the Troy Christian defense again forced a stop. With the running clock, that drive took up most of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Peyton Spurlock would pick off a Lima Perry pass and return it 26 yards for a score, extending the Eagles’ lead to 42-0 following Seth Wynne’s sixth-successful extra point.
Late in the game, Hartman would hook up with Brown on a 56-yard yard touchdown pass, their third scoring connection of the night, giving the Eagles the final margin of victory.
Dillahunt finished his night with 14 carries for 183 yards. In addition to the kickoff return, he also caught a pass on offense and recorded a fourth-quarter interception on defense. Hartman completed all six of his pass attempts — three for touchdowns — and 113 yards through the air. Brown accounted for 96 receiving yards on his three touchdown receptions.
“It was a good way to open the season,” Nolan said. “But we still have some things we need to work on. Our schedule only gets tougher from here.”
Which leaves the Eagles no room for a letdown.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong
Troy’s Christian’s Jacob Brown carries the football Friday against Perry.