“It’s not always X’s and O’s,” Cairns said after Trotwood’s 33-14 win at Sidney Memorial Stadium. “Tonight their X’s were a lot faster than our O’s.
“There were a number of times I thought our kids were in position to make plays. We couldn’t get our hands on them and (running back Michael) Shaw wiggled out of a few plays.”
Shaw’s speed was indeed an X-factor. The senior running back rushed 12 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 53 yards and two TDs from senior quarterback Domonick Britt.
Though not a must-win for the Rams in their bid for the GWOC North title or the Division II playoffs, it certainly helped. Trotwood (5-2) was coming off a tough-luck loss a week ago to Piqua, 14-13, when a last-minute field goal attempt never had a chance.
On Friday, Sidney (4-3) matched Trotwood as both scored on their first possessions. The Rams then got tough. Trotwood scored on five of its seven first-half possessions, though the seventh drive barely counts with a one-play series before the half. Sidney, meanwhile, punted three times, lost a fumble and threw an interception as the Rams took control.
“We needed a victory. If it was by one point or by a 100 we just wanted a win,” said Trotwood coach Maurice Douglass. “The important thing tonight is we came out with a ‘W’ and didn’t get too banged up.”
Shaw, Britt and other starters sat out the second half with their team up 33-7 at halftime.
Shaw, a Penn State University recruit, delivered a few highlight-reel runs. His best came with 1:11 left in the second quarter. On third-and-10 from the Yellow Jackets’ 13, Shaw took the hand-off right and looked to lose yards with a pair of defenders ready to wrap him up. But Shaw reversed direction, went around left end and sprinted to the corner of the end zone.
“Just had to freestyle a little bit,” said Shaw, whose runs consistently put the Rams in second-and-short situations and helped account for a handful of his team’s 16 first-half first downs. “It was a busted play. It was third down so my initial reaction was to get a first down. When I saw the end zone I thought I could score so I punched it in.”
Britt delivered a few shots, too. The University of Cincinnati recruit completed 13-of-17 passes for 182 yards. He found Corey Dickens five times for 78 yards and a 15-yard TD and Roy Roundtree four times for 51 yards.
“I don’t think our kids backed down,” Cairns said.
“I thought our kids played hard. Trotwood is a talented team and they have a lot more speed than we have. That became painfully obvious as the game went on.”
Unofficially, the Rams held the Yellow Jackets to 70 yards in the first half and 143 overall. Thirty-one of those came on Sidney’s first scoring drive, capped by senior quarterback Xavier Foy’s 12-yard run. Foy sprinted up the middle and facing three Rams defenders at the goal line, sacrificed his body by slamming through them.
Sidney senior running back Mark Ahrens broke off some good runs, he finished with 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the running Rams.
Trotwood finished with 390 yards in total offense, with 208 coming on the ground. Shaw was a big reason as he danced around defenders, spun out of tackles and sprinted away.
“Mike’s a special back. When people see him they just think about his flat-out speed,” Douglass said. “The thing that amazes me is the kid has got some really, really good vision and he’s got some outstanding balance. He’s going to be a great back at the next level.”
The win was a nice rebound for a Trotwood team thrown for a loss against Piqua. Special teams again hurt Trotwood against Sidney — the Rams missed one extra-point attempt, had a second blocked and gave up too much yardage on kick-off returns — but didn’t let it beat them this week.
“We actually did a better job executing this week. Last week we made a lot of stupid mistakes,” Shaw said. “After watching the film, we knew Piqua was a good team but we beat ourselves. Sidney is a good team so we knew our main focus was taking care of ourselves.”
Said Douglass: “The special forces must get it together. We had some different guys out there on the kickoffs and those guys didn’t do their responsibility as far as lane coverage. We’ll have to work on that Monday and get back to the drawing board.”
Trotwood entered Friday sixth in the Division II, Region 8 computer points. With remaining games against Troy (3-4), Northmont (4-3) and Vandalia Butler (4-3), the win Friday was key.
“Last week was a shock and it was humbling,” Shaw said. “We knew coming into this game we had a target on our back. We had to bounce back and kind of change the mood in the locker room from trying to get into the playoffs to staying humble and doing some good things for the rest of the season.”