ALBANY– Behind a potent offensive attack in the first half, Troy carried that into the second half, and it led them to their second Class AA championship in a row, this time against Saratoga at UAlbany’s Bob Ford Field by a final score of 28-6.
It was just five plays into the game when the Flying Horses scored first, taking a 40-yard run from Dev Holmes and finishing it off with a seven-yard touchdown run from superstar RB Joey Ward to make it a quick 7-0.
When Troy got the ball back late in the first quarter, it was smooth sailing from there. On the second play of the drive, Holmes came up big once again as he pounded his way into the end zone from 75 yards out to make it 14-0 before the first frame had ended. Holmes had a monster game on the ground, rushing for 129 yards and the one touchdown. He also had a receiving touchdown.
The game really turned towards Troy in their final drive of the first half. They got the ball with 6:11 on the clock at their own three-yard line. Slowly working their way down the field, they finally scored with five seconds on the clock on Holmes’ reception. All in all, the drive lasted over six minutes and went 18 plays for a total of 97 yards.
“We knew we had to jump out,” Troy quarterback Joe Casale said. “When we jump out on teams, we can just get the ball rolling. Going into the half up 21-0 with the late score, that was huge for us to get momentum coming out.”
“The program kids are what get us through. Having big-play kids like Dev and Joey (is) very, very special, but we have program kids that (work) 12 months out of the year to help us get to this point,” Troy head coach Bob Burns said.
There was no scoring in the third quarter, as Saratoga held onto the ball for a chunk of the quarter before being forced to punt. They had the ball once again for much of the fourth quarter, but didn’t score until 2:22 remaining, which was their second time within Troy’s five-yard line in the final frame. The first time, the Blue Streaks looked to have scored, but the referees said otherwise, placing the ball about six inches short.
“I think we could have executed the play a little better, certainly. I don’t think everybody was on the same page in the backfield and it kind of screwed up the timing a little bit, but that happens,” Saratoga head coach Terry Jones said.
This loss will end Saratoga’s season, with a final record of 9-1.
Troy will move on in the state tournament as the defending state champions, and are a heavy favorite to win the title again. They will play again in the regional round on Friday, November 10 against the winner of Section 1, either New Rochelle or Clarkstown South. The game will be played at a Section 2 site, but the specific location and start time are still TBD.
(Photo gallery by Aidan Joly)