Tigers pull away in second half
Published 12:08 pm Saturday, October 14, 2017
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – They’re in rare company.
Before this season, only one Troup football team had ever started a season with seven consecutive wins, and that happened in 1978.
With Friday’s 38-0 victory over the LaGrange Grangers, the Troup Tigers have joined that club.
Troup improved to 7-0 overall, and 3-0 in Region 5-AAAA while moving a step closer to a potential championship showdown with Cartersville on the final night of the regular season.
It was a tight ballgame at the half, with Troup clinging to a 7-0 lead after scoring on an interception return for a touchdown by Kobe Hudson.
In the second half, Troup was able to get into an offensive rhythm, with Jackson Davis scoring on a pair of touchdown runs, while Montez Crowe threw
scoring passes to Hudson and Jamari Thrash.
Carson Wreyford capped the scoring with a field goal in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Troup’s normally high-powered offense was held without a point by an inspired LaGrange defense.
“(LaGrange) played hard, and we didn’t execute,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s head coach. “They came out, and they were going to force us to run the ball, and we did. But we turned it over, and you can’t win when you turn it over.”
In the second half, Troup scored on five of its first six possessions to break it open.
“That’s the deal with this offense. When they take some things away, we’ve got to be patient enough to take what they give us, and not think we’ve got to score every play,” Glisson said. “In the second half, we looked more like us than we did in the first half.”
The Grangers are still searching for their first win, but they did some positive things, particularly in the first half where they stood toe-to-toe with the Tigers.
Troup had been scoring points at will most of the season, but its offense was unable to put any points on the scoreboard in the first two quarters.
Jakoby Smith had a lot to do with that.
The junior defensive back had two interceptions in the first half, with one coming on a spectacular leaping catch in the second quarter.
While the Tigers started to pull away in the second half, Smith said the effort was there until the final snap.
Four of Troup’s five scoring drives in the second half began in LaGrange territory, so it was a tough situation for the defense.
“I’m proud of me and my teammates,” Smith said. “We fight until the end, no matter what the score is. We compete.”
The only points in the first half came courtesy of Hudson, Troup’s spectacular sophomore play-maker, who has nine touchdown catches as a wide receiver this season.
Hudson picked off a pass on LaGrange’s first possession, and he raced about 80 yards for the touchdown, and Carson Wreyford’s extra point gave Troup a 7-0 lead.
If the Tigers thought they were going to run away and hide, though, the Grangers had other ideas.
Troup’s offense, which had been averaging more than 40 points per game and had hung 70 points on Sandy Creek two weeks ago, couldn’t solve LaGrange’s defense in the first half.
LaGrange did some nice things offensively in the first half with Charles Crawford at quarterback and made it into Troup territory three times, but it couldn’t find the end zone.
On LaGrange’s final possession of the first half, it made it to the Troup 23-yard line before time ran out and the teams header to their respective locker rooms.
On that last possession, the Grangers started at their own 21-yard line following a Smith interception, and they ran 13 plays before the half ended.
Cornell Kendrick, LaGrange’s senior running back, had consecutive runs of eight and 11 yards at one point on the drive, and Crawford completed a 13-yard pass to Myles Johnson.
“We knew we were fixing to put some numbers on the board in the second half,” said Troup senior linebacker MaCenta Stafford. “Everybody was fussing in the locker room, but football’s an adversity sport. That’s what it’s all about. You overcome it.”
The Grangers had the ball first in the second half, and they lost a fumble, giving the Tigers the ball at the 19-yard line.
Five plays later on third down, Davis powered his way into the end zone from six yards out, and Wreyford converted the extra point to give Troup a 14-0 lead with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
Following a LaGrange punt, Troup got the ball at its own 25-yard line and went back to work.
A 26-yard completion from Crowe to Kenly Bridwell put the ball on the LaGrange 5-yard line.
On the next play, Davis scored on a 5-yard run, and Wreyford’s extra point put Troup on top 21-0 with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter.
Another LaGrange fumble in its own territory gave the ball to Troup at the 20-yard line.
It was Crowe finding Bridwell for a 12-yard completion to the 1-yard line, and two plays later, Thrash connected with Hudson for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Cal Foster knocked home the extra point, and Troup’s lead was 28-0 with 3:45 to play in the third quarter.
Troup’s final touchdown drive began at the LaGrange 35-yard line following a punt.
Trey Williams had back-to-back runs of 11 and eight yards before Crowe hooked up with Thrash for a 16-yard, and Foster’s extra point pushed the lead to 35-0 with 10:21 to play.
LaGrange put together its best offensive series of the second half when it got the ball back, with Crawford completing passes of 12 and 23 yards to Quentaveious Swanson and Logan Karcher, respectively.
That drive ended with a third lost fumble of the second half, though, and Troup took over at the LaGrange 44-yard line.
Crowe found Mark-Anthony Dixon for a 28-yard completion to the 17-yard line.
LaGrange’s defense stood firm from there, and Wreyford made a 35-yard field goal to cap the scoring.