By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
September 9, 2013
The Troup Tigers lost Friday’s game to the Callaway Cavaliers in large part because of their inability to hang on to the ball.
The Tigers committed five turnovers, and they were all extremely costly.
Two fumbles were returned for touchdowns, and two other fumbles came when the Tigers were deep in Callaway territory.
The Tigers also threw an interception in the fourth quarter that all but sealed their fate.
While the turnovers were disappointing, the Tigers walked away from the game knowing they have the ability to move the ball effectively against a quality defense.
After falling behind 26-7 in the third quarter, the Tigers put together back-to-back scoring drives, and they did it almost all on the ground, with the running backs taking advantage of holes opened by a veteran and talented offensive line.
With Dre Towns and Daryl Dunlap getting most of the carries, the Tigers had two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter that allowed them to get within five points.
After a Callaway punt late in the third quarter, the Tigers needed just four plays to go 44 yards for the score.
Chris Howard had a 7-yard run, and Towns put the ball on the 3-yard line with a 26-yard run.
Dunlap then bulled his way into the end zone for the 3-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers later got the ball at the Cavaliers’ 47-yard line, and once again they only needed four plays to score.
Towns finished the quick drive off with a 24-yard touchdown run, and he had an 11-yard run two plays earlier.
The Tigers, now down just 26-21, were hoping to get the ball back with a chance to score the winning touchdown, but Callaway quarterback Tez Parks had a 57-yard touchdown run to spoil that plan.
Down by 13 points, the Tigers were forced to throw the ball, and Callaway’s Terry Godwin came up with an interception.
Troup finished with an impressive 261 rushing yards, and it out-gained Callaway 312-302.
Towns, part of an imposing one-two combination at running back with Dunlap, had a 15-yard touchdown run in the first half to go along with his second-half score.
In the end, though, all the good work Troup’s offense did couldn’t overcome the five turnovers.
“I realistically believe that’s at least 21 points we left on the field (because of the turnovers),” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said.
Troup did, however, move the ball well against a Callaway defense that shut out a strong Heard County offense the week before.
“Throughout the whole game, I thought we drove the ball pretty well,” Kendall said.
Through two regular-season games and a preseason game against Auburn, the Tigers have shown they came move the ball well with a powerful running game and a quarterback in Will Smith who doesn’t throw often, but has been effective when he has put the ball in the air.
While Towns and Dunlap have done most of the work, other backs including Howard, Cameron Russell, Devonte Swanson and Vanquez Bonner have gotten into the act as well.
A year ago, the running game was almost exclusively the domain of Dunlap, who had a big season.
This year, an effort is being made to spread the wealth.
“We’re trying to run a lot of different people, not just put the load on one person,” Kendall said.
Troup was also aided on Friday by the return of standout offensive lineman Mitch Mathes, who missed the season opener with an injury.
UP NEXT: Troup (1-1) will make its first road trip of the season on Friday when it visits Newnan (1-2).
A year ago at Callaway Stadium, Troup held a 14-0 lead through three quarters, but Newnan rallied for a 21-14 victory.