“Anytime you can break off into a big play like that, it puts a dent in the defense big time,” Kelley said. “I know when it happens to us, your head goes down a little bit. That play put us up a notch. I’ve really got to thank my line. They’ve been blocking for me all year long.”
Kelley’s other score, a one-yard run off right tackle at 6:58 in the third quarter, put TC up 26-0. Dillon Smith added a one-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter for the Trojans final score as Clinton Prairie (5-7) couldn’t make a threat, turning the ball over on three of its four second half possessions against the Trojans stingy defense.
“We raise our energy up to another level on defense,” Kelley said. “In practice, we’re hitting, hitting, hitting. When we come out on the field, we’re ready to hit.”
The Gophers turned the ball over seven times in the game — twice on fumbles, twice on interceptions, and three times on downs.
The teams combined for four turnovers on the first four possessions of the game before TC settled into its groove and slowly but surely put the game away.
The Trojans coughed up the football four plays into their opening drive. CP responded by fumbling on its first play from scrimmage. TC returned the favor when it fumbled on its first play of the next possession.
“We practiced outside, even in the rain, every night this week, and we didn’t have any fumbles,” Gilbert said. “And then we put the ball on the ground, they put the ball on the ground. … I have never seen a turnover series like that, and I’ve been doing this 34 years. Once the guys got their heads on straight, they marched the ball down field and scored and then we were off.”