In the red zone, with their backs to the wall, Troy’s Sam Jones stripped Salado’s Wrook Brown of the ball and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown with 47 seconds remaining in the football season opener tonight.
Brown was bouncing his way toward a first and goal when Jones took the ball from him and ran the length of the field. His touchdown and the point-after kick gave Troy a 28-14 lead that was built on big plays throughout the game.
The first big play came on the first play from scrimmage when Zach Hrbacek took a handoff over the left tackle, bulled through a couple of arm tackles and sprinted toward the end zone at Crusader Stadium to put Troy up 6-0 just 12 seconds into the game. The PAT kick failed.
Salado responded on the next series, driving 49 yards on 10 plays before Reid Vincent was stopped on a fourth down and 3 to go at the Trojan 27 yard line.
The Trojans then pushed the ball 46 yards with Hrbacek doing most of the work before Troy quarterback Ben Presley hit him over the middle for a wide open touchdown with 40 seconds left in the first. Josh McKissick kicked the extra point for a 13-0 lead in what was beginning to look like a game that could get out of hand if the Eagles didn’t find an answer to Hrbacek.
Vincent took the pooch kick at the 25 yard line and needled his way through the Troy kick off team for a touchdown that was called back for a flag at the 30 yard line for holding. The Eagles stalled and teams swapped punts before Salado got into the groove of its ground game in the second quarter.
Brown returned a Troy punt 13 yards to the Salado 36 yard line. The Eagles ate almost five minutes of play clock before Brown took a handoff up the middle, bounced through two tacklers and sprinted 36 yards for a touchdown with 3:47 left in the first half. He kicked the point-after to keep the Eagles in the game.
The Eagles took their only lead of the game on their first possession of the second half. Travis Carter returned the second half kick 33 yards to give the Eagles great position at the Troy 45 yard line. Ten plays later, Hunter Turk bulled in from the nine yard line. Brown’s kick gave the Eagles a slim 14-13 lead.
After swapping possession, Salado threatened to extend its lead early in the fourth. Lucas Morvant intercepted a pass by Troy’s Presley and ran it back 23 yards to give the Eagles the ball near midfield. Salado pushed the ball to the Troy 28 yard line, when Turk coughed up the ball, the first turnover for the Eagles.
On the very next play, Troy’s Hrbacek blew through arm tackles again and dashed 75 yards for a touchdown. Presley hit Tyler Jarolik for a two-point conversion and a 21-14 lead with 9:39 left in the game.
The teams swapped possessions again, but Troy buried the Eagles at their own three yard line with a 47 yard Beau Workman punt.
Salado had 5:06 left in the game. On second and 8 to go, Vincent took a hand off from Huton Haire and blew past the linemen and linebackers. He was headed for a touchdown when Sam Jones leapt to trip him up by his toe at the 34 yard line. Over the next eight plays, Salado pushed to the Troy 13 yard line. Brown took the handoff but was stripped of the ball that Jones grabbed and returned 90 yards for a touchdown and 28-14 final lead.