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Victorious at last: Trojans pummel Plains to end multiyear drought

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | October 12, 2021 7:00 AM

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Troy quarterback Trevor Grant, left, and wide receiver Kempton Sloan celebrate after a Trojan touchdown during an Oct. 8 game against Plains. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

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Trojans celebrate following their Oct. 7 victory against Plains. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

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Trojans celebrate following their Oct. 7 win against Plains. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

Troy bucked a 19-game losing streak and won their first home game as an eight-man team in a 56-14 rout of Plains last week.

The Oct. 7 win marked the Trojan’s first victory in two years. Troy’s last triumph, a 42-18 win against Victor on Sept. 20, 2019, broke a nearly four year winning drought.

Last week’s victory fell on Troy’s senior night, making it all the more sweet for upperclassmen who have doggedly stuck with the Trojans.

“It feels wonderful,” said running back AJ Starks. “It’s a true experience after playing for four years and then finally coming out with a ‘W’ as our last senior night.”

Coming off a 56-34 loss to Arlee the week prior, coach Luke Haggerty said the Trojans had focused on improving their reaction time on defense.

“We played a really good game against Arlee,” said Haggerty. “The one mistake we made was our linebackers weren’t stepping up fast enough. So all week we worked on our linebackers stepping up.”

Offensively, the Trojans worked on improving their ground game — a perennial focus for the team.

Within two minutes of the kick-off, Troy established a lead thanks to a touchdown from Starks and a successful two-point conversion.

In their next position, the Trojans moved the ball quickly down the field thanks to a 22-yard pass from quarterback Trevor Grant to wide receiver Paxton Fisher. Grant secured the touchdown for Troy with an eight-yard carry. A two-point conversion by Starks gave the Trojans a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.

With Fisher and Grant working together again to carry the ball down the field, Troy scored with 10 minutes left in the half. Grant secured the two-point conversion with a quarterback carry.

Defensively, the Trojans offered the Horsemen no quarter and Troy soon regained possession of the ball. After getting the ball to within six yards of the end zone, Grant completed a pass to wide receiver Kempton Sloan, giving Troy their fourth touchdown of the night. Grant secured another two-point conversion for the Trojans.

The Horsemen fired back during their next possession. Mason Elliott broke away from the Trojan defense for a 50-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion by Elliot was good.

Troy followed up with Grant and Starks leading a series of short runs. Grant brought the ball over the line for the Trojans. The two-point conversion fell short, rounding out the half-time score of 38-8.

Relying on a sequence of short runs, Fisher secured a touchdown five minutes into the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Starks ran the ball into the end zone giving the Trojans a 56-8 lead.

With a minute left in the game, Darren Standeford secured a Plain’s second touchdown bringing up the final score.

The Trojans will hit the road to play Victor on Oct. 16. Going into the game, Grant said he and his teammates hoped to build on their success against Plains.

“We’re going to keep our heads up, we’re going to do the same thing we did today,” he said. “We’re going to get our rushing yards, get our lines, skips and blocks.”