By CHRIS MANNING
Valley Sports Report
SAYRE — Sayre knew this was its chance to make a statement to the rest of the league, and the district, and they went out and made that statement loud and clear with a, 22-21, win over Troy in NTL football action here Saturday.
“Coming into this game, we knew it would be a long shot to win,” said Sayre quarterback Brayden Horton. “That’s an unbelievable Troy team, probably one of the best they’ve had in a long time. We knew it was going to be a physical game, a dogfight.
“I made some mistakes during the game, but my team picked me up,” he added. “The defense was unbelievable today, and our line stuck up to one of the best lines we’re going to face all year.”
Horton’s mistakes were few and far between, though, as he threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing, going 11-for-12 in the first half. He did have two interceptions, but also had 48 yards rushing with a score on 14 carries.
He stepped up when his team needed him, too, scoring on a 4-yard run with 29 seconds left to give Sayre the lead at the half.
Then, he orchestrated the game-winning drive with 2:36 left to play, finding Luke Horton for a 13-yard scoring strike with 37 seconds left. Brayden then hit Josh Arnold for the 2-point conversion to get the win.
“They just ran crisp routes,” Brayden said about his receivers. “They made it easy on me. They were open when they needed to be. It was just a great team effort — the line gave me time, our game plan was phenomenal, it worked to perfection. I’ve got to give credit to the receivers and line.”
Luke Horton finished with 90 yards receiving with one score on six catches, while also hauling in an interception. Arnold had 48 yards and a score on six catches, too.
Sayre didn’t have as much success on the ground — just 126 yards as a team, but got big carries when they needed them.
They used their 3-headed monster in the back field of Zack Garrity (nine carries, 34 yards), David Northrup (six carries, 39 yards) and Jake Bennett (six carries, 11 yards).
The Redskin defense held Troy to without a first down until six minutes to go in the second quarter, and kept them under 200 yards rushing.
Troy’s Clayton Smith ran for 108 yards and a score on 13 carries, but he left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Damien Landon added 72 yards on 19 touches.
Justice Chimics was 2-for-8 for 67 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Gavin Cohick had a 60-yard touchdown catch.
Penalties were an issue for both teams. Sayre was flagged 12 times for 105 yards, with Troy getting dinged 15 times for 150 yards.
The game opened with Troy getting the ball, and going 3-and-out.
Sayre took over deep in their own territory, and got out to the Trojan 39-yard line thanks to a Brayden Horton to Arnold 19-yard pass play.
But that’s when Troy got the first of three takeaways, as a fumble was picked up by Jackson Taylor, and run back 37 yards to paydirt for his first varsity touchdown. Chimics added the point-after for a 7-0 Trojan lead with 8:01 on the clock.
The two teams traded drives that went nowhere, with Sayre taking over at their own 20-yard line late in the first quarter.
From there they orchestrated a 10-play scoring drive that ended with Braydon Horton finding Arnold for a 15-yard scoring strike down the right side of the field. Horton was 4-for-4 during the drive for 35 yards, while also adding a 29-yard run.
David Northrup ran in the 2-point conversion, and Sayre led 8-7 with 11:12 left in the opening half.
Troy’s third drive went nowhere again, but on Sayre’s ensuing drive Landon picked off a Braydon Horton pass, which set Troy up at its own 38-yard line. From there, they used six plays to find the end zone, with Smith running it in from 43 yards out, untouched over the right side.
The 2-point conversion was no good, but Troy led 13-8 with 4:08 left in the half.
Sayre respond with a 9-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a Brayden Horton 4-yard run on first-and-goal with 29 seconds to spare before the half. He went 5-for-5 on that drive, including 2-of-2 to Luke Horton for gains of 24 and 25 yards.
The 2-point conversion was stopped, but it gave Sayre a 14-13 lead at the half.
In the second half, Sayre’s opening drive ended in a punt, giving Troy the ball at its own 20-yard line. The Trojans’ 9-play drive fizzled under the stress of four penalties, and they were forced to punt.
The return appeared to score, but a personal foul brought Sayre back to midfield. They were able to drive the ball to the Troy 13-yard line, but a false start, followed by a sack on Brayden Horton pushed them back to 4th-and-goal at the 12.
Sayre went to the air, but Brayden Horton’s pass was picked off by Cohick, who appeared to return it 100 yards to the house.
However, a block in the back brought the ball back to the Trojan 21-yard line.
That’s where Troy started one of the more frustrating possessions that ultimately ended with them in the lead. They were flagged four times on the drive for a total of 45 penalty yards, one of which negated a touchdown run by Landon, but were able to piece together enough runs to get to midfield.
It was there, on 4th-and-16 at their own 40-yard line that Chimics hit a streaking Cohick for a 60-yard scoring strike. Landon punched in the 2-point conversion, and Troy led 21-14 with 2:42 left in the game.
Despite giving up the lead late, Bryaden Horton was unfazed.
“I knew we still had a chance,” he said. “Everybody else was kind of down, and we’ve been trying not to get on each other about things — we’ve always been harping on positive leadership. We came back to the huddle and I said ‘we can score in that amount of time.’ We’ve got one of the best passing offenses in the league, so I knew we had a shot.”
A big kickoff return to the Troy 30-yard line gave Sayre a short field. From there, Brayden Horton hit Luke Horton for a 10-yard gain on second down inside the red zone.
After a holding call backed Sayre up to the 29, Brayden Horton — on third-and-20 — scrambled right for a 19-yard pick up. On fourth down, he snuck up the middle for a new set of downs.
At first-and-goal on the 8-yard line, the Redskins had a run go nowhere, then were called for a false start to back them up to the 13. That’s when Brayden Horton looked to his cousin, Luke, and Luke delivered with a 13-yard touchdown catch with 37 seconds left to play.
“He was definitely in the back of my mind,” said Brayden. “Really, it was just trying to see who could make a play. I knew I could just about look at any receiver, and they would be open, but they made it easy on me.”
Sayre needed the 2-point conversion to take the lead, and got it as Brayden Horton rolled right to find Arnold in the front corner of the end zone.
“Josh made a phenomenal catch,” said Brayden. “He was able to get open, and was able to finish out the game.”
Troy fought to the end, getting to the Sayre 35-yard line with time enough for three chances to get into the end zone. However, all three passes were incomplete, and the Trojans ran out of time.
Sayre, now 5-2, travels to Northwest Area next Saturday, before finishing out the season at home against South Williamsport and Athens, two teams with winning records.
But, after taking down Troy, Sayre is ready for the challenge.
“(We’re) just building on the success that we had,” said Brayden. “Our line really had a break-through against a team like that. I’m really excited our offense has come together, we finally put together a good team game.”
IN PHOTO 1: Sayre players celebrate their win over Troy…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING.
SAYRE 22, TROY 21
T - Jackson Taylor 37-yard fumble return (Justice Chimics kick), 8:01
S - Brayden Horton 15-yard pass to Josh Arnold (David Northrup run), 11:12
T - Clayton Smith 43-yard run (2-point no good), 4:08
S - Brayden Horton 4-yard run (2-point no good), :29
T - Justice Chimics 60-yard pass to Gavin Cohick (Damien Landon run), 2:42
S - Brayden Horton 13-yard pass to Luke Horton (Brayden Horton pass to Josh Arnold), :37
Justice Chimics 2-8-67-1-1
Clayton Smith 13-108-1, Damien Landon 19-72, Justice Chimics 3-9, Gavin Cohick 2-6
Gavin Cohick 1-60-1, Jayden Renzo 1-7
Brayden Horton 14-19-156-2-2
Zack Garrity 9-34, David Northrup 6-39, Brayden Horton 14-48-1, Jake Bennett 6-11
Luke Horton 6-90-1, Josh Arnold 6-48-1, Jackson Hubbard 1-6, Dom Fabbri 1-12
Interceptions: Sayre - Luke Horton; Troy - Damien Landon, Gavin Cohick
Rushes/Rushing Yards 37/195 32/126
Passing Yards 67 156
First Downs 9 15
Penalties/Yards 15/150 12/105
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 4/1