TROY — Troy senior Nick Barr has an active imagination.
“Personally, I always imagine 14-0 after two plays,” he said. “That’s just me, though.
Friday, that imagination — and the Trojans — ran wild on Xenia.
Barr caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Josh Mayfield on Troy’s first play from scrimmage, then Nick Kawecki broke a 74-yard touchdown run on the Trojans’ second possession as Troy leapt out to a 20-point halftime lead and scored 34 unanswered points to begin Friday’s Senior Night game, a 34-7 victory over the visiting Buccaneers at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy, which started slow in falling 26-10 to rival Piqua in Week 1, improved to 1-1 with the convincing victory over a Xenia team (0-2) that won the overall Miami Valley League championship just last season after beating Troy 24-22 in a Week 9 matchup.
“It feels great. We played to our potential today,” Barr said. “We knew what we could do here today, and we got a good bounceback win going into next week against Butler.”
And, after everything leading up to the start of the season, Troy coach Dan Gress wanted to make sure that his team took advantage of every chance it had from the opening whistle.
“We put all this work in since December 10. Let’s go out and have some fun right away,” he said. “Four quarters. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but we’ve got four quarters, so let’s go have some fun.”
Troy’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and Xenia’s punt rolled backwards to the Buc 40-yard line. On the next play, Mayfield lobbed a pass and hit Barr in stride down the left sideline for a 40-yard score, giving Troy a 7-0 lead with 9:34 remaining in the opening quarter.
“We wanted to get started early, because we know what this team is capable of,” Barr said. “We wanted to get a couple of big plays early, get the momentum in our favor.”
“Nick’s someone on that offense that has big-play potential,” Gress said. “It’s going to be there every game. You just have to execute on it. And by gosh, he did, with a great ball from Josh and that O-line protection that’s got to be there, too.”
The Bucs weren’t so quick to punt the ball away on their next possession, going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 31 and getting it, eventually marching all the way to the Troy 26. But on fourth-and-3, the Trojan defense stuffed a run up the middle and took over, and on the next play Kawecki burst through a gaping hole in the middle of the line and flew 74 yards for another score, giving Troy a 14-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter on just two offensive plays to Xenia’s 18.
“Very happy for Kawecki, being a sophomore and not flinching. He repped all week to be that feature back,” Gress said. “And it’s really nice and easy to do when you’ve got this veteran O-line that’s dedicated the way they are. The O-line did a tremendous job all night, because this offense does not run without them.”
After another defensive stop, a first-down incompletion broke the Trojans’ touchdown streak — but they then set out on a 13-play, 62-yard scoring drive, with bruising back La’Manual Kemp-Short punching it in from two yards out to give Troy a 20-0 lead at halftime.
The Trojans opened the second half with another lengthy drive, this time going 68 yards in 11 plays, with Kemp-Short bullying his way into the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown run to make the score 27-0 Troy with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter.
On its next possession, Troy was forced to punt for the first time in the game — only to have Xenia muff the punt right back, allowing the Trojans to take over again from the Xenia 28. Two plays later, Mayfield lofted another scoring strike to Barr, this one from 26 yards out, to give Troy a 33-0 lead and turn the running clock on with 42 seconds left in the third. And while Xenia was able to break through on its final possession, with Ramon Browder scoring on a 1-yard run with 34 seconds remaining in the game, the outcome had been decided since those first two Troy plays.
“A team is not defined by one week. When they’re down, they’re defined by how they bounce back,” Gress said. “I’m so happy that this team took that to heart and was able to bounce back and get some reward for all that work they put in.”
Troy travels to Butler (0-2) in Week 3.