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Bigfork rallies to down Trojans

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| October 20, 2009 12:00 AM

Driving into the red zone with time ticking away midway through the fourth quarter, the Troy High School football team seemed to be in a good position to reclaim the lead in a 7B District battle against Bigfork.

Kody Hoffman caught a key 16-yard pass on third down from Mike Ormiston and then Jake Alexander broke off a 21-yard run to get the ball to the 18. Caleb Kelso followed with an 8-yard gain as the Trojans drove to the 10.

But from there, the Viking defense stiffened. First Kelso was caught behind the line of scrimmage on a five-yard loss. Bigfork then forced two incomplete passes and took over on downs to maintain its 23-22 lead. Although there were more fireworks down the stretch, the Vikings held on for a 37-36 triumph.

Troy struggled with turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities in the second half as Bigfork rallied from a 22-7 halftime deficit.

“We just had some real poor, poor possessions there where we didn’t take care of the ball very well,” Troy coach Rich McElmurry said. “Turnovers have been a huge problem for us and I don’t know why.”

For the second straight week, the turnover bug hit Troy hard to play a role in the outcome. Against the Vikings, an interception in the third quarter led to a Bigfork field goal that would be the difference in the end. And a fumble on a late fourth quarter kickoff return also hurt with the Vikings taking advantage and scoring a touchdown with the short field.

“Offensively, we just couldn’t get it going and we had the mistakes in the second half,” McElmurry said. “The fumble on the kickoff, that came back to bite us.”

Troy played well in the first half to build its 15-point lead. For the second time this season, Alexander ran back a game-opening kickoff for a touchdown. After the Vikings were able to pull to within 8-7, the Trojans responded with a pair of second-quarter TDs – both on Ormiston passes. Brian Hammrich scored on a 68-yard reception and Alexander followed with a pass play that covered 61 yards.

But the momentum quickly disappeared in the third quarter. Bigfork scored on its first possession with an 11-play, 68-yard drive capped with an eight-yard run by Travis Knoll. The Trojans appeared to have stopped Bigfork with a three-and-out but the drive stayed alive thanks to a roughing the punter penalty.

On Troy’s next possession, James Vale picked off Ormiston and the Vikings went right back to work on offense. The Trojans held to force fourth down but Bigfork pulled to within 22-17 with a 34-yard field goal by Derek Minemyer.

Troy failed to move the chains on its next drive, Bigfork took over and took the lead on another Knoll TD. Following the Trojans’ inability to produce points after driving to the 10, Knoll scored again – this time on a 76-yard jaunt.

“I thought we did a good job of containing him but then he breaks off that long run,” McElmurry said about Knoll – Bigfork’s primary offensive weapon. “I knew he was capable of doing that … if we miss a tackle, he could go.”

Leading 30-22, the Vikings then caught a break with the fumble on the kickoff return. Knoll scored his fourth TD with a 9-yard run and the game appeared to be over with 3:05 remaining.

But Troy wasn’t about to roll over and die easily. The Trojans responded with quick drive that covered 55 yards in 38 seconds. Hoffman moved the chains with a 23-yard reception from Ormiston and then the QB two plays later scrambled for 23 more yards. Hoffman scored on a 9-yard pass from Ormiston.

“They responded admirably; I was happy for them,” McElmurry said. “We had a lot of good plays tonight.”

However, Troy missed out on a big opportunity on the two-point conversion. A player was open on the pass attempt but Bigfork held on. At that point, the Trojans still trailed by two possessions, 37-28.

On the ensuing possession, Troy held Bigfork on three-and-out and again scored in quick fashion. This time, Ormiston hit Hammrich on a 35-yard pass and followed with a 10-yard TD strike to Hoffman. A successful two-point conversion from Ormiston to Derrick Winslow pulled Troy to within one point with 54 seconds left.

Troy tried to catch the Vikings out of position with a pooch instead of a traditional onside kick. But Knoll was there to run it down and fall on the ball for Bigfork possession. The Vikings just needed to take a knee from there and run out the clock.

The Trojans outgained the visitors in total yardage, 421-349. Bigfork’s Knoll racked up 191 yards on 31 carries. For Troy, Ormiston completed 11-of-17 passes for 254 yards and ran for another 80 yards. Alexander had 74 yards on 13 carries, Hoffman had six catches for 57 yards and Hammrich caught two balls for 103 yards.

Troy goes to 1-3 in the district, 3-5 overall and will try to finish the season on a high note with Friday’s homecoming game against Thompson Falls.