All along, I've said that if Troy High advanced to the Section II Class AA Super Bowl, it would be, for all intents & purposes, a home game, since RPI East Campus Village Stadium is just 100 yards from the Van Arnam campus that THS calls home. Someone should've told the suits in charge of Section II football that a coin flip was unnecessary. No one did, so they had a coin flip after last Friday's semi-finals, and Shaker, technically the visiting team, won the toss.
Less enlightened types among the Troy faithful might've been thinking, here we go again. We're getting screwed.
Coach Bob "The Builder" Burns had other ideas.
When the proceedings began shortly after 7 pm, Troy won the coin toss, and elected to defer to the 2nd half. Shaker, on the other hand, decided to kick off. Sounds to me more like Shaker won the toss, not Troy. As it happened, Shaker might've been better off if they received the opening kickoff.
Instead, Dev Holmes took the kickoff and raced 88 yards to paydirt. Jordan Audi's extra point, however, clanked off the upright, and Troy had a 6-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game. After a Shaker punt, Troy's first offensive play from scrimmage took nearly as long as the kickoff. Joey Ward, on the halfback option, hit Holmes for 69 yards and another TD. Holmes drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct because he did the Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone. Audi converted the extra point this time, and, less than 3 minutes into the game, Troy was up, 13-0.
Shaker had won five in a row after losing at THS on September 23, 20-13. In fact, they had not surrendered more than 20 points in a single game this season headed into tonight. By the end of the first quarter, after a John Germinerio keeper, the Blue Bison had already fallen behind, 20-0.
In the second quarter, Ward ran one in from 12 yards to extend the lead to 27-0. Shaker finally broke through with 3 seconds left in the half as Wahid Nabi found Mike Broughton in the end zone to cut the lead to 27-7.
Shaker took the 2nd half kickoff and marched down the field in over 7 minutes before scoring again, trimming the lead to 27-14. The Bison defense shut down Troy in the 3rd quarter, limiting the Flying Horses to 8 yards in offense in the period. Kwasi Addo scored on the first play of the 4th quarter, and suddenly, Troy fans were getting nervous, as the lead was trimmed to six at 27-21.
Back came Troy. The offense finally adjusted to the defensive shifts used against them, and Ward was sprung, and scored his 2nd touchdown of the game. However, a conversion attempt failed, and the lead was at 12 with just over six minutes to go.
Nabi and the Blue Bison had one last chance, but Malik Johnson intercepted Nabi, as the ball deflected off the hands of Mike Stiso, who had intercepted Germinerio earlier. Troy stuck to the ground game, and ran out the clock. The Flying Horses won their first Section II title in six years, 33-21.
Up next for Troy will be the winner of a Section IX title game taking place Saturday night between Monroe-Woodbury and Newburgh Free Academy. The state tournament begins next week in Kingston, as all roads now lead to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University Thanksgiving weekend. Having had just six days to prepare for tonight's game, the Flying Horses will now have eight days between games.