The Tigers were dominant in the first half against Fayette County, taking a 20-7 lead into the locker room at the half, but they were forced to dig down deep after giving up 30 consecutive points in the second half to fall behind 37-20.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Troup outscored Fayette County 27-0 to take a 47-37 victory.
The win puts Troup at 3-5 overall, and 3-2 in Region 5-AAAA.
Nobody could have imagined the same two teams that played in the first half were the ones playing in the third quarter, especially Troup.
Penalties? Too many.
Mistakes and turnovers? Don’t even ask.
And then came the fourth quarter.
Character and resolve? You better believe it.
Down 37-20 in the fourth quarter, Troup took advantage of nearly every possession to score points and whittle away at Fayette’s lead until quarterback Will Smith hit Lemonta Truitt on a 10-yard pass with 33 seconds remaining to take the lead.
Troup knew Fayette would come out firing to get the ball back down field to try to at least get in field-goal range, but it didn’t happen.
On Fayette’s second play from scrimmage, the ball was knocked loose, and Michael Mackfield picked up the ball and rumbled some 50 yards untouched for a touchdown to stamp an exclamation point on the end of a furious battle that had everyone on edge to the end.
“I can’t say enough about our guys and coaches that didn’t let the low get so low that you start holding your head down, that you can’t come back,” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said.
Kendall said the team kept “working the problem and staying in the game and doing the things that we do and the things that we have in our offense and defense to keep battling. You have to keep fighting no matter what the situation is.”
Kendall said there were so many players responsible for putting together the comeback, including the five men on the offensive line.
During the fourth-quarter comeback, there was no penetration inside the backfield, providing Smith time to throw and runners the blocking needed to gain yardage.
Kendall credited Smith with his cool game face as he completed a number of key passes to receivers Malcolm Tatum, Ricky Frazier and Truitt, using the sidelines for clock management, allowing enough time for the offense to score three times late.
“The O-line those last few minutes definitely gave good protection,” Kendall praised.
Kendall also said the receivers made “key catches” and got “out of bounds” to stop the clock.
Kendall said it was all about “working the problem, doing the things we do at practice. It was really great to see those things we’ve been working on now develop in game situations.”
The excitement got started early when Troup put together an opening drive that ate up all but five minutes of the first quarter.
The drive ended when Daryl Dunlap, who had a second straight huge game, scored on an 8-yard touchdown run.
Will Bates kicked the point after and the Tigers were off to a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the ball was snapped over Smith’s head as he stood in shotgun formation, giving Fayette the ball on the Troup 2- yard line.
Fayette scored on a 1- yard run by quarterback Jason Williams, and the extra point tied the game.
In the second quarter, Troup took over on its own 31-yard line after a punt.
Smith handed off to Frazier on a slant, and he went 69 yards for the touchdown as the senior out-ran the Fayette defense.
Bates added the point after kick, making it 14-7 Troup with 4:15 left in the half.
Again the Troup defense stepped up after the ensuing kickoff and forced Fayette to punt after three plays.
Smith hit Tatum on a 30-yard pass play, and later, Bruce Danford took the ball over from four yards out, giving the Tigers a 20-7 lead at the half.
Then came the third quarter and the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act as things quickly turned ugly for the Tigers.
Fayette County went 51 yards for the touchdown, and the two-point conversion made it 20-15.
Kendall knew Fayette County wasn’t going to go away.
“They’re a team that’s not going to lay down,” Kendall said.
Troup took the ball back on the kickoff, but was forced to punt after just three plays, giving the ball back to Fayette, which marched down and scored on Williams’ quarterback keeper.
Williams also sprinted to his left and scored the two-point conversion to give Fayette the 23-20 lead.
The Tigers again tried to move the ball and showed some signs of life when Smith completed a short pass, but after the ball was caught, it was fumbled on the subsequent tackle and Fayette recovered on the Troup 39-yard line.
Fayette scored again, this time on a 21-yard run to extend its lead at 30-20.
The Tigers took the following kickoff back to their own 33-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, fumbled again on the 40-yard line with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
From there, things even got worse when Williams hit receiver Ashton Jackson on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 10:49 left in the game.
Jackson was virtually standing alone in the end zone, and suddenly Fayette County was ahead 37-20.
Momentum was obviously going Fayette County’s way, but Smith said the team still had the resolve to come back and win the game.
“I guess we thought we had the lead and we came out not as hot as we did to begin with, but something changed and everybody started playing with a lot more momentum (in the fourth quarter),” Smith said. ” They weren’t giving up and everybody’s attitude changed in the fourth quarter.”
After Fayette County went up by 17, Troup took the following kickoff and started to move the ball, but came to a crossroads near midfield.
On a fourth-and-one , Kendall directed his team to go for it and the gamble paid off with a 6-yard gain and the drive continued.
Troup then got some help when Fayette was flagged for late hit on Tatum, who after catching a Smith pass was hit out of bounds.
Now the ball was on the Fayette 23, and Smith hit Truitt on a 22-yard pass play that put the ball on the Fayette 1-yard line.
Smith then handed the ball to Truitt, who scored on a 1-yard run.
The pair hooked up for a two-point conversion completion to cut the lead to 37-28 with 9:15 remaining.
Fayette took the kickoff and was forced to punt back to Troup from near midfield.
The punt was a high spiral that landed in front of Truitt, who had called for a fair catch on his own 10 yard line, giving the Tigers 90 yards of real estate to cover with 4:59 left and still down by nine points.
Dunlap got a chunk of what was needed on a 32-yard run, and the junior running back capped the 90-yard drive with a 17-yard run, and the Tigers were down 37-34 with 3:35 left.
Troup then tried an onside kick that did not travel the necessary 10 yards, and Fayette took over at the 50-yard line as time ticked away.
On fourth-and-one, the Fayette coach decided to go for it, and Troup’s defenders stuffed the runner for a short loss, giving the ball back to the offense with 1:55 remaining.
Smith handed off to Dunlap, and the 6-foot-3 junior winded his way around the side, then through the middle on a brilliant 42-yard jaunt that ended on the Fayette 11-yard line with 1:09 left.
Dunlap, who rushed for 313 yards the week before against Columbus, knew the game was on his shoulders on his last run and he made the opportunity count.
“Gotta keep going, gotta keep fighting no matter what,” Dunlap said of the run. “I gotta get it in, it was all on me. It was all on me.”
Smith then completed a pass to Truitt, who made his way into the end zone with 33 seconds left, and after the extra-point attempt was blocked, Troup remarkably had a 40-37 lead with 33 seconds left.
Fayette took the kickoff and got to midfield, needing to get into field-goal range to tie it.
A Fayette runner had the ball and was running toward the middle of the line when he was hit, with the ball popping free and bouncing in front of Mackfield, who scooped it up and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown that sent the Troup sideline into pandemonium.
“A teammate knocked it out and I just scored,” Mackfield said. “I was just running as fast as I could.”
Bates’ point after was good, giving the Tigers a memorable 47-37 win.
Troup now turns its attention to crosstown rival LaGrange, with the teams set to play Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.