GREENVILLE – Greenville gave Troy, the No. 7 ranked team in the state, all it could handle early Friday night before the Trojans pulled away and beat the Green Wave 42-21.
Troy entered Friday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference game with just one loss and the No. 7 ranking in the Associated Press’ Division II state poll. But a strong run game and an opportunistic defense had Greenville leading 14-7 midway through the first quarter.
“The effort is there,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “The will is there. The kids are still pushing and playing hard, playing for one another. We’re proud of their effort.”
Greenville took the game’s opening drive 56 yards in just four plays with Logan Eldridge carrying the ball each time including a 1-yard touchdown plunge to put the Green Wave up 7-0 less than 90 seconds into the contest.
“We saw a few things in their films in their defense that was a little bit of a weakness that we were able to exploit at times tonight early,” Shaffer said. “They made a nice adjustment and kind of closed that down, but when they did close that down it opened up another one. It was kind of one of those chess match deals early.”
The Wave quickly regained possession when Trae Wood intercepted a Hayden Kotwica pass, however, they couldn’t get any offense going this time and were forced to punt.
Troy’s second possession resulted in a 63-yard touchdown run by Josh Browder to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Greenville’s ensuing possession ended in another three-and-out, but the Wave got the ball back when Jacob Bradfield recovered a Troy fumble at the Trojan 8-yard line.
“Yeah, we gave up some points tonight, but you’re right, they did give us some chances or some opportunities early that we were able to control the early portion of the game to some regard,” Shaffer said of his defense forcing turnovers.
Two plays after the fumble recovery Eldridge ran for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Greenville lead with 5:25 left in the opening quarter.
“If you had told me that we’d be about six minutes into the game and there would be 21 points on the board I would have told you you’re crazy because I know our defense is good, they’ve got a good defense,” Shaffer said.
The first quarter scoring onslaught continued as Troy took its next possession in for a score with Browder running 15 yards for the touchdown, making it 14-14 with three minutes remaining the period.
Greenville forced a third turnover early in the second quarter with a Micah Light interception. However, Greenville gave the ball back five plays later with its first turnover of the game, an interception.
Troy capitalized on the turnover and scored five plays later with Browder capping off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, giving the Trojans their first lead of the night at 21-14 with 4:44 left in the half.
Following a Greenville three-and-out, Troy padded its lead with a 62-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 4-yard run by Browder with 47 seconds remaining in the half, making it 28-14.
“They’ve got a couple of really nice weapons over there in the quarterback and the running back, and those two kids played well for them tonight,” Shaffer said.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half Browder raced 70 yards for a touchdown – his fifth of the night – for a 35-14 Troy lead.
Greenville immediately responded, though, as the Wave went 79 yards in 12 plays with Eldridge scoring his third touchdown of the night, this one from 7 yards out to make it 35-21 with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Greenville’s defense continued to force turnovers in the second half with Devin Hendrix recovering a Troy fumble late in the third quarter.
“The defense has been playing well,” Shaffer said. “It’s nice to see them get some turnovers and give us some opportunities and some field position.”
However, Greenville’s offense couldn’t get anything going late in the game.
Troy, meanwhile, scored the game’s final points with 5:24 remaining when Shane Shoop returned an interception for a touchdown, giving the Trojans a 42-21 victory.
Unofficially on the night Troy had 352 rushing yards and 28 passing yards for a total of 380 yards while Greenville had 183 rushing yards and 81 passing yards for a total of 264.
Eldridge led Greenville’s offense with 164 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries.
Owen Paulus was 9-of-22 passing for 81 yards and two interceptions. Aaron Rich was the leading receiver with four catches for 44 yards while Hendrix caught three for 28 yards.
Browder led Troy with 268 yards and five touchdowns on 21 carries. Kotwica ran for 86 yards on 14 carries. He was 3-of-7 passing for 28 yards and two interceptions, completing all three of his passes to Kobe Feltner.
Troy improved to 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the GWOC’s American North division with Friday’s win while Greenville fell to 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the American North.
Greenville will conclude its season on Friday in the annual Little Brown Jug rivalry game at Sidney, who also is 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the American North.