VANDALIA — On a night in which the Butler football team sold out to stop the run against Troy, the Trojans cashed in through the air, on defense and on special teams in a 49-19 win over the Aviators Friday.
Troy took advantage of three Butler turnovers to pull away late.
“We made some mistakes and when we did, it seemed like they couldn’t have ended any worse,” said Butler coach Nathan Hyatt. “Troy did what great football teams do – they capitalized on our mistakes and made us pay.”
Troy’s senior quarterback Hayden Kotwica threw for more than 250 yards and four touchdowns, sophomore safety Sam Jackson picked off three passes and Troy’s special teams units blocked a pair of extra points to turn a lead that had dwindled to nine points in the second half into a running block blowout.
“Troy’s quarterback kept making play after play after play,” said Hyatt. “Fourth and long, third and nine, they needed a play, he made the play. You have to give hats off to him. It was less of what we didn’t do to an extent and more of what they did.”
“Their going to keep 7-8 guys in the box? That does make it tough to run the ball,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “But we were able to spread them out, Hayden (Kotwica) made some good throws and our receivers ran good routes.”
With the win, the Trojans improved to 6-1 (2-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division), while Butler fell to 4-3 (1-1 in the GWOC American North).
Butler scored first as Treylann Sanders took a 15-yard pass from Mason Motter to cap off a 61-yard scoring drive with just under nine minutes to play in the first quarter. Andrew Boren added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Troy bounced back and took a 21-7 lead into halftime on a pair of short touchdown runs by Josh Browder — both of which were set up by the first two of Jackson’s three interceptions. Kotwica also threw a touchdown pass to sophomore Kobe Feltner.
Troy would take a 28-7 lead to start the second half after a long pass from Kotwica to Hayden Jackson set up Kotwica’s 6-yard TD run, but from there, Butler came roaring back with a pair of touchdowns to cut Troy’s lead to 28-19.
The first was an 18-yard scoring strike from Motter to Sanders that cut the lead to 28-13. Two minutes later, Logan Flatt rambled for a 49-yard score to cut into the Trojan lead. Troy’s special teams did block a pair of extra points, however, keeping it a two-score game.
“One of the big momentum things for us is missing the two extra points,” said Hyatt. “We got pressure put in our face and didn’t execute some fundamentals. I think that made it difficult.”
After Troy extended its lead to 35-19 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kotwica to Spencer Klopfenstein, Jackson’s third interception of the night essentially iced the game when he picked off Butler sophomore quarterback Mason Motter at the Aviator 37 on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Seven plays later, Kotwica hooked up with sophomore Kobe Feltner for their second touchdown connection of the night, giving the Trojans an insurmountable 42-19 lead. Kotwica would add a touchdown pass to Zion Taylor — his fourth of the night — late in the game.
“This feels great, but like the kids said, we’re not done yet,” Burgbacher said. “We’re going to enjoy this one tonight, but we’re going to get back to work tomorrow because we’ve got to be better come next week, because we’ve got Sidney coming to town.”
“For us, its always about getting better, as a staff and as a football team,” said Hyatt. “When you see a score like that come up people often think it was a beat down. This wasn’t that. They played great, we did some nice things, and every time we made a mistake they did a fantastic job of capitalizing.”
The Aviators will host Piqua (5-2, 2-0) in their final home game on Friday at 7 p.m.
“That game will be a game of contrasting styles,” said Hyatt. “Piqua is going to want to make it a brawl on the inside and we are going to try to use our speed on the outside. If we can use our speed, we are going to be tough to beat but if they make it a brawl, they are going to be tough to beat.”
Darrell Wacker contributed to this story.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.