After a huge offensive effort on the road in a win against Warrenton, Troy Buchanan’s football squad returned home on Saturday hoping its defense could bounce back from getting shredded for three long touchdowns when the Trojans faced Liberty.
Troy’s defense fared better against the Eagles, but the Trojan offense was shut down en route to falling from the ranks of the unbeaten with a heartbreaking 12-10 loss.
“We didn’t play a good football game,” Trojans football coach Ryan Nesbitt said. “I told my guys that was on all of us, and we’ll look at the film together to see what went wrong and get better.”
Troy looked to break a scoreless tie before halftime, reaching deep into Liberty territory. However, Kayden Uhlmeyer fumbled the ball on a quarterback run.
After a momentary lapse by both teams, Liberty’s Wyatt Haynes scooped up the loose ball – and the senior linebacker romped 80 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was missed, but the Eagles suddenly held a 6-0 lead at the 5:47 mark of the second quarter.
Solid clock management allowed the Trojans to put points on the board before the break. Troy’s running game was able to get into range for junior kicker Mason Gessert to nail a 21-yard field goal as time expired to cut the deficit in half, 6-3, heading into the locker room.
Any momentum the Trojans had at the end of the first half quickly vanished on Liberty’s initial drive of the second half. The big play which haunted Troy’s defense last week burned the Trojans again when Jordan Smith capped an eight-play, 82-yard drive with a 50-yard scoring gallop off the right side.
The 2-point conversion pass was missed, and the Eagles held a 12-3 lead.
“Defensively, we played well, but if you don’t do your job, you’ll give up a big play like we did for the long run,” said Nesbitt, whose defense allowed five plays of 40 or more yards against Warrenton last week.
After Nick Bova shut down a potential game-clinching drive by Liberty with an interception he returned to midfield, Troy moved downfield with its running game. Keshawn Jones squeezed into the end zone from two yards out to crawl to within two points, 12-10.
From there, the Trojan offense was shut down by Liberty’s defense. Luke Linden and Alexander Fillner ended Troy’s final two possessions with interceptions to doom the Trojans.
“We had three big takeaways that cost us the game,” said Nesbitt, whose team fell to 2-1 on the season. “We took a shot on second down that (Linden) got his hands on, and that cost us.”
Troy entered the game with an offense that had scored 83 points in wins over Fort Zumwalt South and Warrenton on the strength of its triple-option rushing attack. Liberty was able to stifle the Trojans’ offense by shutting down Zack Collins.
After a 216-yard, four-TD performance against the Warriors last week, the Eagles held the sophomore runner to just 64 yards.
“Offensively, we had too many self-inflicted wounds,” Nesbitt said. “We’ll look at the film together, and get ready for Francis Howell Central next week for homecoming.”