It’s one more for a championship
LAGRANGE – Callaway Stadium hasn’t seen the last of the Troup Tigers.
With Thursday’s hard-fought 23-20 victory over the Cedartown Bulldogs, the Tigers will finish no lower than second in Region 5-AAAA, and that means they’ll be at home for the first round of the state playoffs.
Troup visits Central-Carroll next week, and it closes the regular season against Cartersville in a game that will determine the region champion.
It has been a remarkable turnaround season for the Tigers, who have already won six more games than they did a year ago when they went 1-9.
“I’m just proud for them,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “That was big for us coming off the emotional game last week (against LaGrange). And to win it the way we won it, that makes me even more proud than if we had won it 42-0. The resolve of those guys is unbelievable. Really and truly, going through what we went through from last year to now has prepared us for this, facing the adversity.”
There was plenty that went wrong for the Tigers in Thursday’s game, but as they’ve done all but once this season, they found a way to win.
Troup (7-1) lost its first game to Hardaway, but it has won seven in a row since then.
“It’s a blessing,” senior Ken Truitt said. “To go from 1-9 to 7-1, it’s a blessing. That’s what it feels like. That’s all I can say really.”
Cedartown nearly spoiled the party.
Trailing by three with 1:50 remaining, Cedartown took over at its own 1-yard line following a Carson Wreyford punt.
Quarterback Trevon Wofford led the Bulldogs down the field, and a 15-yard completion to Quan Neal put the ball in Troup territory.
Troup’s King Mwikuta sacked Wofford for a 7-yard loss to the 43-yard line, and after a spike on second down, Cedartown was facing a third-and-long situation.
Wofford went deep and threw a strike to TJ Martin in the corner of the end zone.
It looked like Martin may have made the catch, but the officials ruled it an incomplete pass, and that brought up fourth down.
Wofford threw an incomplete pass, and Troup got the ball back and ran one kneel-down play, and that was that.
Troup’s defense was a big story in the game.
Cedartown led 20-13 at the half, but it was held scoreless over the final two quarters, and Troup did just enough offensively to secure the win.
“We didn’t play a great first half, so we had to come out in the second half and redeem ourselves,” Troup linebacker Kevin Martin said.
The Bulldogs took a seven-point lead at the half thanks to a 34-yard touchdown pass to Neal as time expired.
Those would be the last points the Bulldogs would score, though.
Troup recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, and that led to a Wreyford 37-yard field goal to trim Cedartown’s lead to 20-16.
Following a punt, Troup took over at the Cedartown 35-yard line, and it was able to find the end zone.
On third-and-short, quarterback Montez Crowe bulled over a handful of Cedartown defenders for a 15-yard gain to the 11-yard line.
An 8-yard completion from Crowe to Chanse Hill got the Tigers close to the goal line, and Camren Russell scored on a 2-yard run.
Wreyford’s extra point gave Troup a 23-20 lead with 4:40 to play in the third quarter.
Troup made it into Cedartown territory on its next three possessions, but it was unable to pad the lead.
Thanks to the excellence of the Troup defense, though, that three-point lead was just enough.
Cedartown’s best scoring chance in the second half came when it reached the Troup 14-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
That opportunity ended with a fumble that was recovered by Kevin Martin, so Troup still had the lead.
The turnover bug bit Cedartown again later in the quarter.
Following a completed pass, the Bulldogs fumbled in their own territory, and Hill came up with the ball at the 31-yard line.
Troup had the ball with just 2:20 remaining, but Cedartown had all three of its timeouts remaining, and it used them all.
Following Wreyford’s punt that was downed at the 1-yard line, Cedartown had a long way to go, but it had nearly two minutes to work with.
Wofford completed a 38-yard pass to Keshon Kent to put the ball on midfield, and Neal’s catch set the Bulldogs up at the 36-yard line.
Troup’s defense stood tall once again, though, to make sure it was a winning night for the home team.
In the first half, the Tigers moved the ball well and scored two touchdowns, but they also had four interceptions.
After the first of those picks, Cedartown got a 1-yard scoring run from Wofford, and Lee Sisson completed a pass to Tony Mathis for the two-point conversion, and Troup trailed 8-0 with 4:53 to play in the opening quarter.
Troup came right back and marched 70 yards for the touchdown, and it was Tyree Carlisle capping that drive with a 2-yard scoring run, and Wreyford made the extra point to make it an 8-7 game with 2:34 to play in the first quarter.
Russell had back-to-back runs of 35 and 11 yards on that drive, and Crowe completed a 12-yard pass to Kobe Hudson to put the ball on the 3-yard line.
Early in the second quarter, Truitt had an interception, giving Troup the ball at its own 45-yard line.
Five plays later, Carlisle’s 11-yard touchdown run gave Troup its first lead.
It looked like Carlisle was going to be brought down around the 5-yard line, but the sophomore managed to stay on his feet and score after shrugging off three would-be tacklers.
Earlier on that drive, Crowe had a 29-yard run, and he pulled a host of Cedartown defender with him for the final 10 yards.
Troup’s two-point try was unsuccessful, and the lead was 13-8 with 9:08 left in the half.
Troup attempted and onside kick and recovered it, but that possession ended with a failed fourth-down play.
Cedartown then drove for the touchdown, with Wofford connecting with Neal for the 35-yard score, and the extra point made it a 14-13 game with 4:57 remaining in the half.
Troup thought it had scored a touchdown in its ensuing possession when Crowe found Kenly Bridwell for a 35-yard touchdown, but a penalty negated that score.
Later in the half, following Troup’s fourth interception, Cedartown only had 11 seconds to work with.
After an incomplete pass, Neal made his second touchdown catch of the half as the clock hit zero, giving Cedartown the lead.
The Bulldogs were hoping to build on that momentum to begin the second half, but they fumbled the kickoff and the Tigers recovered, and the comeback was on.
OF NOTE: For more photos from Thursday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports