NTL FOOTBALL: TROY ROLLS PAST LINE MOUNTAIN INTO D4 FINAL
(2023-11-11)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
TROY — Troy dominated in all three facets of the game as they shutout Line Mountain, 44-0, in the District IV, Class AA semifinal Friday to punch their ticket to their first district final since 2013, the year they took home the title.
“We’ve been in multiple semifinals and just haven’t gotten it done,” said Troy coach Jim Smith. “This is a big step forward for us. We’re really excited to be hosting maybe one of the country’s most elite programs, and we feel great about our opportunity next Friday.”
They’ll be taking on defending state champions Southern Columbia, who routed Mount Carmel 43-0 in the other semifinal.
“It feels good, it hasn’t been through Troy in a long time,” said Mason Smith, who had a punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
By most measurements Troy overpowered the Eagles. They out gained them 313 to 89 in yardage, and 14-6 in first downs. Their only real blemish being penalties, where the Trojans were flagged eight times for 60-yards, but it didn’t stop them from putting the game into the mercy rule early in the third quarter.
The Trojan defense shined the brightest, forcing Line Mountain in negative yardage on 12 of their 49 offensive snaps.
“Early on we hurt ourselves with some offsides penalties, a facemask penalty, which aided them in moving the ball a little bit,” said smith. “But once we settled down they tackled well, they were spot on, and I’m proud of our defense. They’ve haven’t given up a point in (three) games.”
Line Mountain’s 1,000 yard rusher, Nolan Baumert, was held to 11 yards on 13 carries as Noah Ringes led them with 34 yards on nine touches.
Kaiden Maurer was 4-for-14 for 46 yards in the pocket, as Dalton Schadel led them in receiving, hauling in a 27-yard pass.
“We definitely did very good defensively,” said Mason Smith. “We’ve had a very good practice defensively all week, and it really helped us.”
Offensively, Troy’s first drive was a 3-and-out, but they scored on their next six drives, with four different players finding the end zone.
“That feeling out phase is tough,” coach Smith said. “We weren’t even knowing what to expect with them, they’ve played multiple different fronts - even fronts, odd fronts - we didn’t what they even expect. They were cutting our center and guards early on, so we knew we had to take it off tackle to be successful, and we figured that our pretty quick. After that we got things working.”
Clayton Smith led them in rushing with 79-yards on nine carries and two scores. Mason Smith added 33 yards on four carries, while Charles Oldroyd had 35 yards on four touches. Quarterback Evan Woodward chipped in with 13 yards on three carries plus a touchdown.
All in all, nine different players ran the ball 29 times on the night for 188 yards.
“They did great,” Clayton Smith said about his team’s offensive line. “It was wide open the whole night. Play calling was good, perfectly blocked, I couldn’t have asked for a better job.”
This was Clayton’s fourth game back from an injury that kept him out much of the regular season.
“I’m getting better every week, and just keep progressing,” he said. “The first week I came back I was cramping at halftime a little bit, but now I’m starting to get back into football shape, and I’m doing better.”
Through the air Woodward was efficient, going 6-for-8 for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Camryn Harwick had three catches for 43 yards and a score, while Brendan Gilliland had a 41-yard touchdown catch. Lincoln Chimics added a 24-yard touchdown reception, as well.
Troy’s special teams was spot on, too. Not only did they have a punt return for a touchdown and a field goal, but also a pair of touchbacks.
“We’re really blessed to have the kicker we have,” said coach Smith. “He’s got a huge leg - that was a college level kick, spot on - big kick-offs. And, then of course our kick return guys are two of the more dangerous guys than anywhere in the state, in my opinion.”
That 39-yard field goal was Spalding’s best this season, and would have been good from 45-yards.
“You can change the game,” Spalding said about his role. “It feels good to do my part.”
Line Mountain took the opening kick-off but would be forced to punt as they neared mid-field. They kicked it right to Mason Smith, who avoided a host of Eagles tacklers before finding open room to return it 75-yards to pay dirt.
“That felt good, it got our energy up and definitely set the tone for the game,” Mason Smith remarked. “I saw their whole team going to the left and I kind of cut it back to the middle.”
A short kick and a personal foul call on the Trojans set the Eagles up on the Troy 40-yard line, but they would turn it over on downs.
Troy’s first drive, though, went no where, and they booted it away.
The ensuing Line Mountain drive was their longest. Starting at their own 32-yard line, they picked up three first downs as they got it to the Trojan 30-yard line, but once again turned it over on downs.
Troy wasted no time taking over on their own 31. A Mason Smith 16-yard run got them to midfield, then Clayton Smith found a big hole up the middle for a 54-yard scoring run.
“It was huge,” Clayton said. “It was wide open, perfectly blocked, and I felt the fastest I’ve felt since I came back from my injury.”
Spalding’s kick was good, and it was 14-0 Troy with 11:39 left in the half.
The Eagles’ next drive ended in a punt after two short runs and JB Burbage batted down pass.
The Trojans got a short field this time, taking over on Line Mountain 42-yard line. They would score on seven plays, this time a 1-yard run from Woodward.
He got them there, taking it to the one on a 12-yard carry when it was third-and-five.
Spalding’s kick was good and it was now 21-0 with 6:10 to play in the half.
Line Mountain’s next drive ended thanks to a pair of Jackson Taylor sacks.
The Trojans took over at their own 47-yard line after the punt, and immediately got in Line Mountain territory off a pass interference call.
From the 32 they needed just six plays to get into the end zone. An 11-yard run from Mason Smith got them down to near the 20, followed by back to back runs Taylor got the Trojans a first-and-goal.
Three straight Clayton Smith runs ended with a 2-yard plunge from the senior. Spalding’s kick was true, and it was 28-0 Trojans with 1:04 on the clock.
The Eagles went 3-and-out on their next drive, giving Troy one more chance to put points up on the scoreboard.
A 24-yard pass play from Woodward to Chimics got them inside the Line Mountain 30-yard line. However, a fall start and delay of game backed them up, and they needed a 16-yard hook up from Woodward to Mason Smith to get them to the 22-yard line.
On fourth-and-4 they elected to kick it and Spalding made it look easy for the 31-0 lead with 5.2 seconds left to play.
“I knew I had the distance but it’s a little bit different in a game,” Spalding said.
The Trojans got the ball to start the second half, using a big kick-off from Jacob Hinman to start on the Line Mountain side of the field.
They would need just four plays to go 47-yards to pay dirt. The big play being a 41-yard scoring strike from Woodward to Gilliland on fourth-and-4.
Gilliland was open on an out route, got a big block down field from Harwick, and tip toed along the sideline all the way past the pylon for the score.
The kick was no good but Troy put the game into the mercy rule with 9:38 left in the third quarter, up 37-0.
After another Eagles 3-and-out Troy started their final scoring drive at the Line Mountain 35-yard line. It was another fourth down pass play, as on 4th-and-10 from the 35 Woodward found a wide open Harwick near the end zone. The senior hauled it in and walked in for the final score of the game.
Spalding’s kick was good for the 44-0 final with 3:46 left to play in the third.
After that Troy’s JVs held on for the shutout.
“I feel like we’ve been working our whole lives to get to this moment,” Clayton Smith said after the game.
The Tigers rolled past Troy 48-12 in the district semifinals last year at Alparon Park en route to their state title, but the Trojans feel they know what to expect from the state power.
“We’ve got Southern’s five plays, they’ve got our five plays,” said Smith. “We know what they run, they know what we run. There’s no secrets. The better team, the better players are going to win this game next week, and we’re really excited about the opportunity.”
Troy 44, Line Mountain 0
T - Mason Smith 75-yard punt return (Brady Spalding kick), 8:50
T - Clayton Smith 54-yard run (Spalding kick), 11:39
T - Evan Woodward 1-yard run (Spalding kick), 6:10
T - Clayton Smith 2-yard run (Spalding kick), 1:04
T - Brady Spalding 39-yard field goal, :05.2
T - Evan Woodward 41-yard pass to Brendan Gilliland (kick failed), 9:38
T - Evan Woodward 35-yard pass to Camryn Harwick (Spalding kick), 3:46
Nolan Baumert 13-11, Noah Ringes 9-34, Kaiden Maurer 8-(-8), Kaden Dunkelberger 3-8, Ian Bates 1-(-3)
Kaiden Maurer 4-14-46-0-0
Nolan Baumert 3-19, Dalton Schadel 1-27
Clayton Smith 9-79-2, Mason Smith 4-33, Charles Oldroyd 4-35, Evan Woodward 3-13-1, Brendan Gilliland 1-5, Jackson Taylor 2-11, Kael Millard 1-2, Noah Ellis 2-11, Reed Palmer 2-(-1)
Evan Woodward 6-8-117-2-0, Joseph Frye 1-2-8-0-0
Camryn Harwick 3-43-1, Brendan Gilliland 1-41-1, Lincoln Chimics 1-24, Mason Smith 1-16, Evan Woodward 1-1
Team Stats Line Mountain Troy
Rushes/Yards 35/43 29/188
Passing Yards 46 125
First Downs 6 14
Penalties/Yards 5/35 8/60
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 0/0
PHOTO CAPTION: Troy’s Mason Smith runs back the Line Mountain punt for a touchdown…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING
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