With conference pride on the line, the Ohio Bobcats of the MAC took on the Troy Trojans of the Sun Belt. Unlike some of the earlier bowl games, there was a raucous crowd, ready for a fight.
They got one.
Early in the game, Troy punched Ohio right in the mouth. A few Trojan mistakes were the only thing that kept it a game. Both teams combined for 4 turnovers in the first 10 minutes, plus the Trojans added a couple of very costly penalties.
By the end of the first half, Greg Windham, the Bobcats quarterback, had 4 turnovers. Do you want to know what else Greg Windham had? Heart. Late in the first half, he led his Bobcats to a touchdown, closing the gap to 21-17. Not too many could have the confidence for such a drive after so many mistakes.
The second half started off as a defensive struggle. After trading a few possessions, the Bobcats found themselves on their own two, thanks to a nice Trojan’s punt.
A nice run on first down was much needed, to get the Bobcats out of trouble. Unfortunately Windham had a screen pass tipped, and Troy got the interception. That led to an easy Trojan touchdown. That could have demoralized the Bobcats and Windham as they trailed 28-17. A blow out wasn’t out of the question.
Windham responded and led the Bobcats to a FG on his next drive, and took some huge shots in the process, both on running and passing plays. Heart.
As the game got close, both teams tried to run the football, and it didn’t work.
Things looked bleak for the Bobcats. Then Troy went outside of what they like to do. They tried to run out the clock with methodical play and punted on a 4th and 2 on the good side of the 50.
Windham led the Bobcats down the field, but eventually was stymied by the Troy defense. On 4th down, some questioned Solich’s move to try for a field goal. I disagreed. He called the game true to his nature.
The Bobcats missed it. However, his defense held. Papi White returned the punt to the Ohio 44 with 7.55 left in the game, trailing by 8. Windham made a nice throw and Jordan Reid made a great catch to move the Bobcats to the 20.
Troy’s defense stepped up and held the Bobcats to a field goal, which closed the gap to 28-23.
The Bobcat defense, which held a potent Troy offense down all night, despite all the turnovers on the offensive side of the ball, held yet again. This gave the Bobcats one more chance to pull out the win.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Windham wasn’t able to pull it off, even though the effort and heart was there.
I am loathe to bring up stats in a game like this, because it doesn’t show the heart and the effect lady luck has on a game.
The Bobcats out gained the Trojans, 393-322. The Bobcats had 5 turnovers to 2 by the Trojans. Surely, that was the game changer, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The Bobcats played a great game, led by a senior quarterback that could have given up, but didn’t. Some of the turnovers were his mistake, some were not. In the end, it was a hell of a ride.