BY JAKE LOURIM
ROCHESTER HILLS — Troy safety Danny Wunderlich didn’t even see his game-winning interception.
“I thought Christian (Purnell) caught the interception,” Wunderlich said. “I honestly didn’t even see the ball. I’ve got to give that all to Christian.”
Wunderlich snagged the game-winning pick and Terrance and Torrance Cherry added 240 rushing yards in Troy’s 19-14 win over host Rochester Stoney Creek Friday in OAA Red Division play.
On the first play of Stoney Creek’s final drive, the backup quarterback (the starter was injured early) lobbed a pass toward the right sideline. The ball went off Purnell’s hands and right to Wunderlich — his second pick of the game.
The Cherry twins chewed up the clock in the fourth quarter, but after a penalty and fumbled snap, Troy had to punt to Stoney Creek with 1:57 left.
The Colts needed one more stop, and Wunderlich and Purnell had it. Troy’s spot starter at quarterback kneeled three times to finish it.
That cemented a lead that the Cherry twins helped build. They punished Stoney Creek with their bruising, aggressive running style, earning more than half of their combined yardage after contact.
Torrance Cherry Jr. carried 15 times for 57 yards, 24 after contact. Terrance rushed 20 times for 183 yards, 84 after contact, and added touchdown runs of 1 and 74 yards in the first quarter.
Excluding the three kneels, 35 of 53 Troy snaps were Cherry runs. Mussat and senior receivers Juwuan Jackson and Michael Thomas were the only others to touch the ball.
“We took the load, and we just tried to carry it for the team,” Terrance said.
“(The coaches told us) we had to step up and do better, and that’s what we did,” Torrance said.
Wunderlich’s interception was his second game-winner. He also picked a ball out of the Romeo tight end’s hands late in the first game. His pick was Troy’s third of the game, and all three happened on the first play of a Cougars’ drive.
Junior defensive back Justice Bigelow jumped up and grabbed the first interception following Troy’s first touchdown. It looked like the momentum had shifted toward the Colts, but Stoney Creek stopped them there and scored on its next drive.
Wunderlich’s first pick of the game came on the first play of the second half. The ball was right to him in the middle of the field, and he snatched it and ran 25 yards.
“That’s a safety’s dream,” he said, “so I went up and got it.”
In a tight game, those three turnovers proved to be the difference. Mussat managed the game well and avoided any turnovers.
With just four days to adjust to varsity, he said the toughest part was the speed of the game.
“(I had to) speed up my decision-making, speed up my steps,” he said. “It was a lot quicker than anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“I knew it was quick. I had seen it in practice. But you can’t simulate the game in practice.”
Troy brought up Mussat from the JV team this week after starter Jay Darish injured his knee in Week 1 and senior Justin Losey hurt his shoulder last week.
“The offense is the same at the JV level and at the varsity level,” Griffith said. “It’s more a matter of what you emphasize.
“All he needed to know was who to hand the ball off to, so we scaled it down a little bit, but Alex has been in the program for two years. Duane Losey does a great job with the quarterbacks. I thought Alex did a really nice job stepping up.”
Wunderlich finished the game under center last week, but the Colts put him in the secondary against Stoney Creek, and it paid off.
Mussat, a sophomore, finished 4-for-12 for 62 yards. Seniors Juwuan Jackson and Michael Thomas caught two passes each for 40 and 22 yards, respectively.
Jackson padded Troy’s lead with a 30-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half. Mussat found him open down the right sideline, and Jackson sprawled out to touch the pylon as he was falling.
Jackson said he didn’t make many adjustments on the outside because Mussat was prepared and “had improved to me.”
After several short possessions early — even the touchdown drives averaged under two minutes — the Cherry twins started to chew up the clock. A Troy fourth-quarter drive lasted five minutes, and when the Colts forced a three-and-out, they took the ball back for 90 more seconds. By then, Stoney Creek only had one more chance, and Wunderlich shut the door.
(Jake Lourim is a junior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)
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