Red Devils celebrate first win over Trojans since 1939

Troy’s Evan Jones fights his way out of a tackle on a touchdown run Friday against Tippecanoe.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

Tippecanoe quarterback Troy Taylor (15) hands off the ball Friday against Troy.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

Four Tippecanoe defenders try to bring down Troy’s La’Manual Kemp-Short Friday night.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

Troy quarterback Josh Mayfield breaks free on a run Friday against Tippecanoe.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

Troy’s Nick Kawecki carries the ball as Tippecanoe’s Tyler Carlson (2) and Kaleab Tadesse (9) pursue Friday.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

Troy’s Nick Barr breaks through the banner and runs the Trojans onto the field before their game against Tippecanoe Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium.

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today

TROY — Tippecanoe celebrated its first victory over Troy in 81 years.

Meanwhile, the Trojans’ frustration couldn’t help but boil over.

Twice when the Trojans took the lead, the Red Devils quickly answered, including Tyler Carlson’s second touchdown run of the game that gave Tippecanoe a 30-26 lead with 1:36 to play, and Troy’s last gasp came up short as Tippecanoe held on for the four-point victory — a win marred by a number controversial calls throughout the night — Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.

For the Devils — who returned to the field for the first time since Week 2 after their Sept. 11 game against Fairborn was cancelled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic among the Skyhawks — the win marks their first 3-0 start since 2016, as well as their first victory over the Trojans since 1939.

“It’s been 81 years — and granted, we haven’t played every year — but our kids have been through so much already this year, and they haven’t let it phase them,” said Tippecanoe coach Matt Burgbacher, who just two years ago was winning games on the Troy Memorial Stadium field as Troy’s coach. “And they just show up every day and work their tails off. And tonight was picture perfect.

“Yes, we gave up the lead with four minutes left. But we never quit. That’s how these kids are. They don’t quit. I’m just so happy for them. They did it.”

And how Tippecanoe did it was impressive, as well.

After Troy took a 13-10 lead midway through the third quarter, Griffin Caldwell returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown to put the Devils back on top, and Carlson turned a fourth-and-1 into a 34-yard touchdown run to give Tippecanoe a 23-13 lead heading into the final quarter.

But after back-to-back touchdown runs by Josh Mayfield, of 7 and 17 yards, gave the Trojans a 26-23 lead with 4:14 to play, Tippecanoe set off on a nine-play, 76-yard drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Carlson on third-and-goal with 1:36 remaining to put the Devils ahead for good.

“Tyler is a three-year starter for us, and he does a great job,” Burgbacher said. “Again, I’m just so happy for the kids. We had a phenomenal week of prep, and they were ready and had the right mindset. They believed they could do it, and they did.”

Those answers came with caveats, though.

After Nick Barr’s 15-yard touchdown reception from Mayfield gave Troy a 13-10 lead with 5:45 left in the third, a controversial excessive celebration penalty — as well as an offsides call on the ensuing kickoff — set up the Devils’ kickoff return score. And of those 76 yards on Tippecanoe’s final go-ahead drive, 40 came on penalties, including 30 on one play early in the drive, as well as a pass interference call that put the Devils on Troy’s 10-yard line to set up the game-winning score.

And even on Troy’s final desperation drive, Barr appeared to fight his way through two different potential pass interference calls to make a grab for a 40-yard gain on fourth-and-10 — only to also be called for offensive pass interference, making the penalties offset and forcing Troy to replay the down. That final pass fell incomplete with 1:00 to play, and the Devils killed the clock from there.

All told, the Trojans (2-2) were penalized 14 times for 156 yards on the night — but Troy coach Dan Gress shot down all of that talk.

“What happened in that game in that way really doesn’t matter at this point. It has no bearing on us showing up tomorrow and staying on track, staying on our mission for this season,” Gress said. “The penalties are no excuse.

“We did what we’ve done all year, which is come out in the second half full throttle. It was just some late-game mistakes and big plays on special teams that hurt us. We’re right there. We still have everything in our hands. We’ve just got to do it.”

Quarterback Troy Taylor gave Tippecanoe a 7-0 lead after the opening quarter with a 10-yard touchdown run, then Owen Hadden kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-0 in the second quarter. Evan Jones put Troy on the board before halftime, though, scoring on a 16-yard run to make it 10-7 Devils at the break and set up all the drama in the second half.

All told, Troy piled up 338 yards of total offense to Tippecanoe’s 212 — but the Devils’ 156-50 advantage in penalty yards erased that advantage, and they made the most of their chances when they got them.

“We talk about bad adversity and good adversity, and yeah, we had some things fall in our favor. And still, I thought our kids reacted the right way,” Burgbacher said. “Again, I’m just so happy for our kids. They played so hard. The resiliency, the perseverance — you name it, these kids did it. I just can’t say enough about them.

“When I came to Tipp, we knew that if we wanted to be the top dog, you’ve got to beat the big dog. And we’re not there yet. We made a lot of mistakes tonight — but you can cover up a lot of those mistakes if you play as hard as we did.”

Tippecanoe will face an arguably even bigger test in Week 5, hosting 4-0 Piqua in the Indians’ second straight battle of undefeated teams — Piqua knocked off 3-0 Stebbins 27-0 Friday night.

“We’re going to enjoy this one tonight, and then we’ll get back to work tomorrow and clean things up for Piqua,” Burgbacher said. “But this was a big win for us. A big win for this year’s team, and a huge win for our program in general.”

Troy, meanwhile, will get the chance to bounce back hosting 0-4 Greenville.

“It’s going to be tough tonight, and it’s going to be even tougher tomorrow when we turn on that film and see what happened,” Gress said. “But you only respond one of two ways. And we’re going to see how we respond as a program tomorrow getting ready to show up to work again. That’s all a team can do.”