Troup falls to the champs

Published 12:58 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They had the champs on their heels.

The Troup Tigers were facing a daunting 31-6 halftime deficit against the powerful Cartersville Purple Hurricanes on Friday night at Callaway Stadium, but in the third quarter they started taking it to the two-time defending state champions.

After a touchdown pass from Montez Crowe to Kobe Hudson, the Tigers were down 31-13, and they got the ball back on the Cartersville side of the field following a failed fake-punt attempt.

With a touchdown, that once seemingly insurmountable deficit would have been down to 11, and the Tigers would have been right there with a chance to

make a game of it.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, what was a recurring theme throughout the night was about to rear its head.

Troup made it to the 10-yard line and appeared on the verge of putting the ball in the end zone when Cartersville picked off a pass in the end zone.

The Purple Hurricanes drove 80 yards for a touchdown to build a 38-13 lead, and they didn’t look back.

Cartersville ended up winning 52-13 to complete a perfect regular season and extend its winning streak to 40.

Troup closed the regular season with an 8-2 record, and it will be on the road for the opening round of the state playoffs after finishing third in Region 5-AAAA.

The Tigers did a lot of good things in Friday’s game, but they were unable to overcome six turnovers, most of which were turned into touchdowns by the Purple Hurricanes.

“We really felt like we had a chance,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “We felt like we had good schemes. We just didn’t quite execute to the level we needed to in a championship-caliber game.”

Although Cartersville’s high-powered offense scored six touchdowns, Glisson felt his defense performed admirably.

“I was really proud of our defense,” Glisson said. “They drove the ball one time on us in the first half. Every other time they had a short field. And they had that long drive in the fourth quarter.

“We missed some tackles. And we’ve got to do a better job with that. Coach (Tripp) Busby and those guys did a good job getting a plan together.”

Troup moved the ball effectively at times, but it was unable to overcome the turnovers.

Kobe Hudson and Jamari Thrash each had a touchdown catch.

In the first half, Hudson made a remarkable 20-yard catch on a fade pass from Crowe.

Thrash had a 40-yard scoring catch in the second half.

For Cartersville, while Clemson-bound quarterback Trevor Lawrence did plenty of damage, senior running back Rico Frye was the main man offensively with four touchdown runs.

Lawrence threw two scoring passes, one to Jackson Lowe on a flea-flicker play, and one to Jkobe Orr in the fourth quarter.

With the final scoring pass, Lawrence surpassed Deshaun Watson to become the state’s all-time career leader in touchdown passes with 156.

Cartersville also scored on defense, with Bradley Kirk returning an interception for a touchdown.

Cartersville scored on its first three possessions to go up 17-0.

Jonathan Cruz started the scoring with a 40-yard field goal, and following an interception, Frye’s 9-yard touchdown run gave Cartersville a 10-0 lead.

Troup’s second possession ended with a punt, and Cartersville scored three plays later on Lawrence’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Lowe.

The Tigers showed off their quick-strike offense on their next possession.

On first down, Tyree Carlisle caught a screen pass from Crowe, and he raced 60 yards to the Cartersville 20.

On the next play, Crowe threw the ball in Hudson’s direction, and the sophomore seemed to hang in the air for about 10 seconds before coming down with the ball in the end zone.

The extra-point attempt was blocked, and Troup trailed 17-6 late in the first quarter.

The Tigers then forced a punt, but they gave the ball right back to the Purple Hurricanes on a fumble.

Cartersville, with the help of a pass interference penalty, covered 38 yards in four plays, and it was Frye scoring on an 8-yard run to put Troup in a 24-6 hole.

After a Troup punt, Cartersville capped the first-half scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by Frye.

The Tigers got the ball first in the second half, and they put together an impressive 80-yard scoring drive.

Crowe completed passes to Kenly Bridwell and Mark-Anthony Dixon for first downs before finding Thrash for the 40-yard touchdown.

Carson Wreyford made the extra point, and Cartersville’s lead was down to 31-13.

On Cartersville’s first possession of the second half, a Joko Willis sack of Lawrence helped force a punt, or so it appeared.

The Purple Hurricanes went for the fake, but the Tigers were ready and they made the stop well short of the first down.

Crowe had an 11-yard run to the Cartersville 24, and he completed a 7-yard pass to Bridwell.

Cartersville was then called for a late hit on Crowe, and Troup had the ball at the 10.

On the next play, an interception gave the ball back to Cartersville.

Frye capped an 80-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run, and Cartersville led 38-13.

Early in the fourth, Lawrence tossed a 20-yard scoring pass to Orr, and Cartersville led 45-13.

Kirk then picked off a pass and raced 30 yards for the touchdown to cap the scoring.