Record-setting night for Troup

Published 12:18 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was a record-setting night at Callaway Stadium.

Montez Crowe, Troup’s outstanding senior quarterback, had a brilliant effort in Thursday’s season opener against the Hardaway Hawks.

Crowe completed 28-of-38 passes for 415 yards with three touchdowns as Troup outlasted Hardaway 31-28.

Crowe set the school’s single-game record for passing yards, a mark that had stood since 1987.

Dino Stafford, who enjoyed a stellar career at Troup, had owned that record for 30 years.

Junior Jamari Thrash, who was playing in his first regular-season game at Troup after transferring from LaGrange, was Crowe’s favorite target on Thursday.

Thrash had seven catches for 150 yards with a touchdown, and he said Crowe has everything it takes to be a big-time quarterback.

“He’s great. He’s got a great IQ,” Thrash said. “He knows how to get the receivers the ball. He knows when to throw it, how to throw it, who to throw it to.”

Thrash’s 17-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter gave the Tigers the lead with 6:37 to play, and they held on from there.

On Troup’s final possession, Thrash had a 14-yard, over-the-shoulder catch on third down that gave the team a first down and helped run out the clock.

Kobe Hudson, who is coming off a remarkable freshman season where he had nine touchdown catches, had two scoring receptions from Crowe in Thursday’s game.

Hudson had five catches for 79 yards.

Hudson had a 36-yard touchdown catch in the first half, and a 6-yard scoring reception early in the second half.

Sophomore Marc-Anthony Dixon got into the act as well with a 38-yard catch in the fourth quarter that set up Thrash’s game-winning catch.

Dixon was blanketed by a pair of defenders, and he somehow managed to come down with the ball for the big gain, and Troup scored two plays later.

Dixon also had a 26-yard catch in the first half that led to another touchdown.

Dixon had three catches for 79 yards.

Tight end Kenly Bridwell also had a handful of catches, and running back Tyree Carlisle had a couple of receptions out of the backfield.

Carlisle had a 1-yard touchdown run in the first half as the Tigers built a 17-14 lead.

Crowe was at his best when the game was on the line.

After Hardaway scored on back-to-back drives, it had a 28-24 lead with 7:33 remaining.

When the Tigers got the back following the Hawks’ final touchdown, they were on their own 20-yard line, needing to go 80 yards to reclaim the lead.

It took Troup less than a minute to make it happen. Hudson had a 25-yard catch on second down to put the ball near midfield.

Two plays later, Crowe launched the ball downfield in Dixon’s direction, and he out-fought a pair of defenders to give the Tigers first down at the Hawks’ 17-yard line.

“We throw balls like that in practice,” Dixon said. “I caught the ball, and it was like, we’ve got to go get the next play, and try to score a touchdown.”

After an incomplete pass on first down, Crowe hit Thrash for the 17-yard touchdown, and Carson Wreyford’s fourth extra point gave the Tigers a three-point lead.

After Troup’s go-ahead touchdown, it was up to the defense to step up and make a stop.

The Tigers forced a three-and-out, with defensive lineman King Mwikuta coming through with a sack on third down.

The Tigers took over near midfield, and their aggressive mindset didn’t change.

On third down, Crowe dropped a perfect pass into the hands of Thrash for a 14-yard completion, and the Tigers had a first down at the Hawks 38-yard line.

After three running plays, it was fourth down with less than 10 seconds left, and rather than punt, the Tigers went for it.

Crowe threw deep to Thrash, and a pass-interference penalty gave the Tigers a first down.

Troup ran one kneel-down play, and that was that.

Hardaway’s offense was also prolific.

The Hawks ran for more than 200 yards, with Marco Lee and Jaron Early each churning out big chunks of yardage.

“We’ve got to work on tackling, filling the gaps,” senior linebacker Macenta Stafford said. “There’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to improve on.”

It’s always nicer to work on things after a win, though.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Stafford said. “It feels so great right now, because last year we lost this game. Everybody was hurt.  So it feels good to have that momentum. We’re 1-0.”