BY TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SAYRE — Sayre coach Kevin Gorman said Troy’s game plan Friday night was no secret, but his team did not take advantage of its opportunities during a 36-14 loss at the Lockhart Street Bowl.
“We knew what Troy was going to try to do coming in,” he said. If you can’t get them into third-and-long, or fourth-and-long, you’re in for a long night.
“The worst thing is we had them in those situations, and we had them backed in second downs, and we let them do what they wanted, whether it was in their short passing game, or us not tackling.
“When they can get into those short-yardage situations, it’s pretty much four-down territory for them anywhere near the 50,” added Gorman. “If you can’t get yourself off the field on third-and-long, or fourth-and-long, you’re going to have a long night.”
Gorman couldn’t pinpoint any one reason for his defense’s inability to make plays on third- and fourth-down.
“It was a little of everything.
“Our lack of size up front didn’t help us,” he said. “We had kids shooting the ‘A’ gaps, who were probably giving up 100 pounds … they were getting pushed back into our linebackers.
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s all about doing your job,” noted Gorman. “On one touchdown, the defender assigned to take the quarterback, decided not to take the quarterback. A couple of other times on short passes, our tackling was poor.
“This game is about improvement. Our goal is to improve every week, and this week as far as tackling is concerned, I think we definitely took a step back.
“I told the guys, ‘we’re not the biggest guys, so we can’t keep going up top, especially against the bigger backs, like Troy’s fullback. You have to go low.,” noted Gorman. “Hopefully, sooner than later, it starts sinking in.
“We need to get better at getting off the field when we have the opportunity because I think other teams are going to try to do the same thing to us, considering the athletes we have on offense,” added Gorman.
Sayre only had eight offensive possessions Friday night, but Gorman wasn’t going to use that as an excuse.
“It’s tougher to get in a rhythm when an opponent limits you to eight possessions, but with our guys it not that difficult to get into a rhythm.
“A couple times when we did have the ball, we took advantage of the mismatches I thought we had, which was some of their guys playing man-to-man on our wide receivers,” said Gorman. “Other times, we made mistakes and gave the ball up. You can’t do that against a team like Troy — every possession against a team that wants to play keep away counts.”
Sayre’s run game was effective early in the game.
“We were able to run the ball early. Isaiah (Firestine) ran hard and had a couple of nice runs, but it was tough-sledding,” he said.
“Once we had a little early success, (Troy) started stacking the box, but our philosophy then is to let our guys on the outside go to work,” added Gorman. “The three interceptions didn’t help our efforts to loosen the box back up.”
Gorman notes he was pleased with his special teams play.
I thought the special teams did a nice job,” he said. “It was the other two phases of the game we did pretty poorly at.
“Troy’s kick-off team doesn’t kick it very deep, and will try onside kicks here and there, or squib kick it, but we handled it well,” noted Gorman. “I was really concerned about their kick return team against our kick-off team, but our guys did great. They got down to the ball quick, and made the tackles.
“I thought our punt team did well, too.
“When Troy punted, we kept our defense on the field. I’m always worried when the punter is the quarterback, too,” he added.
GRADE: C. “Troy is definitely a nice team, but I don’t think they’re three or four scores better than we are,” said Gorman.
“We have to be better at taking advantage of the opportunities we have, whether it’s on offense or defense,” he added.
IN PHOTO: Sayre head coach Kevin Gorman.
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