EASTON — On a field that was almost impossibly muddy, the Troy Trojans rode an opportunistic defense and a handful of big plays to an 18-0 victory over the Pleasant Ridge Rams Friday night in Easton.
“I don’t think these conditions were an advantage to either team in this game,” said Trojans’ coach Derek Jasper. “The team that won this game was going to be the team that didn’t put the ball on the ground.”
The Trojans forced six Pleasant Ridge turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles — which gave the Trojans extra opportunities and also kept the Rams’ offense, which had put up big numbers in a Week one win over Jefferson County North, on the sideline.
The game’s first turnover — a Pleasant Ridge fumble that was as much a function of the slick conditions as the Troy defense — led to the game’s first score.
Troy took over the Pleasant Ridge forty-one yard line, and used a mix of run and pass on an eight-play touchdown drive capped by a one-yard senior Marcus Martinez run. The Trojans didn’t pass much on Friday night, but two key completions from junior Kipp Jasper highlighted the drive. The first was an 11-yard strike to Tate Smith that got the Trojans moving, then Kipp Jasper hit senior Reid Jasper on a 26-yard play.
“We think we’re a balanced team, but we haven’t been able to throw the ball much,” Coach Jasper said. “I thought we hit some big ones in the passing game early. Kipp threw some nice balls.”
Late in the opening period, the Trojans threatened again, after the Jaspers hooked up on a 31-yard passing play. Ridge’s sophomore Jake Heckman, however, picked off a pass just outside his own end zone to end the threat. It was the first of two interceptions for the sophomore defensive back in the game — accounting for both of Troy’s turnovers.
With time winding down in a tight first half, the Trojans ran a reverse to sophomore Bray Davies. The sophomore turned the corner and sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown, pushing the lead to 12-0 with 2:09 to play in the half. Davies was untouched until the final 10 yards, when he made a nifty move to get into the end zone.
“He ran it great and we blocked it great,” Jasper said. “That might have been the play of the game.”
The Rams looked to get a quick score before halftime to regain some momentum, but Reid Jasper and Davies came up with interceptions in the final two minutes. Davies added a diving interception in the third quarter and senior Gus Collins added a fourth-quarter pick.
A fumble recovery by junior Cale Hamilton set up the game’s final score late in the third quarter.
Following the Ridge turnover, Troy let its offensive line set the tone. Junior Jacob Moore and Kipp Jasper ripped off runs of 16 and 15 yards, then Jasper went up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run.
For the game, the Trojans rushed for 150 yards and added 68 through the air. They held the Rams to just 61 yards rushing, which Ridge added another 111 passing.
“They’re huge up front and we were concerned about (Ridge quarterback Colton Comer) after the game he had last week,” Coach Jasper said. “He got dinged up a couple times tonight and I think that changed their game plan a little bit. That’s a good football team that’s going to win a lot of games.”
The Trojans, who knocked off Valley Heights 27-12 in the season opener, are 2-0 to start the 2018 campaign. They visit Horton in a non-league game Friday.
Pleasant Ridge, which beat two time defending Northeast Kansas League champion JCN 30-12 in the opener, falls to 1-1 and hosts McLouth (1-1) on Friday.