Trojans edge Black Knights, 26-20
TOWANDA - With the first cold weather game of the season, the Black Knights hosted their Route 6 rivals from Troy in what turned out to be another Towanda heartbreaker.
The Trojans bested the Knight with a 26-20 win.
"Sounds like a broken record," said Towanda coach Jamie Wecker. "We played hard, but we made mistakes when it counted. Against good teams like Troy you can't make mistakes."
The first mistake was falling for a misdirection play midway through the first quarter on Troy's second possession. Quarterback Jed Wright faked a handoff, cut back against the flow before racing up the middle and out running Towanda defender for an 81-yard score. Joshua McClaren added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later, the Black Knights looked to like they would score. Noah Huff kept the ball and raced down the home side for 58 yards to the three, but fumbled on the tackle. The ball rolled along the sideline and into the endzone where McClaren recovered.
On their next possession, Towanda score on a 9-play drive with Huff leaping over the top of the pile on a fourth-and-goal from the one. Dan Leljedal carried three times on the drive for 56 yards.
Fans, however, cringed when Nick Place missed the extra-point wide right, reminding the Towanda faithful of last week's loss at Mifflenburg by the same score and for the same reason.
Troy then put together a 13-play drive that resulted in 29-yard field by McClaren as the buzzer sounded to end the half for a 10-6 lead.
Starting the second half, Leljedal fumbled on Towanda's first play after a 10-yard gain. The Trojans drove to the red zone. Then Wright appeared to score on a 20-yard run, but the blocked that sprung him was flagged for holding. Troy ended up trying a 28-yard field goal, but it went wide left.
Towanda took the lead on the next series that was nearly all Huff. The sophomore threw a pass to Brandon Mattocks for 20 yards and added runs of 8, 7 and 33 yards. The final run, a touchdown, put the Black Knights up 12-10.
Justin Bradley returned the kickoff 33 yards to the 44, giving the Trojans excellent field position. Troy moved methodically downfield behind Wright, who connected with Bradley on two passes. The second covered 24 yards as Bradley leaped over a Towanda defender for a touchdown.
Wright then hit Mattocks on a slant to add the conversion for an 18-12 lead.
Wright had the right stuff on the night, carrying the ball 22 times for 200 yards.
"He's a freak," said Troy coach James Smith of Wright. "He's our leader. He's better with his reads and better in the passing game. Quietly, he's one of our leaders."
Wright also completed 6 of 7 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.
The Trojans' defense stymied Towanda, sacking Huff on first down for 10-yard loss. A bobbled snap on the punt forced a short kick, giving Troy the ball on their own 43-yard line.
The Trojans then tried some razzle dazzle. Wright pitched to Bradley who tossed a 39-yard pass to Darton Harwick. Two plays later, Wright raced around the end, driving towards the pylon for the score. Wright also ran in the two-point conversion for a 26-12 lead.
With 9:11 left to play, it looked like the Black Knight needed a call for help, but they kept their cool. Towanda drove 80 yards on 18 plays. Huff attempted to score from 7 yards out, putting his head down to force his way into the endzone. Slow to get up, Huff did not return to the game.
Huff finished with 21 carries for 166 yards.
On the next play, taking over at QB, Dinelli scored from two yards and added the conversion on a run to narrow the Troy lead to six.
After the Black Knights stopped Troy, Towanda took over with 1:07 left. Austin Markel took over at quarterback and promptly hit Dinelli for a 27-yard gain, but that was all the gas the Knight had left.
"It was a well fought game," Smith said. "You won't find a better 1-5 team than Towanda and our boys knew that coming in. They played hard."
This was the first time in over fifteen years that Troy has defeated Towanda, dating back to the pre-Dawsey era.
And what is Wecker going to tell his players after another heartbreaker?
"Guys, we are working hard and playing hard. We have overcome adversity. If we put can it together, we can still have some fun nights this season."
Troy, now 5-2, ended a two-game losing streak and Towanda may now be one of the best 1-6 teams in the area.