State time for Tigers

Published 1:51 pm Monday, November 6, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It’s time to turn the page.

The Troup Tigers came into Friday’s showdown with Cartersville believing they had an opportunity to pull off the upset, and they did some good things.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they were unable to overcome some costly mistakes, including six turnovers, on the way to a 52-13 loss.

Now, Troup will attempt to put that loss in the rear-view mirror when it travels to Ringgold to play Heritage in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

A year ago, Troup followed up a loss to Cartersville by falling to West Hall in the first round of the playoffs.

Troup is hoping for a better result this time around.

“We’ll see if we learned our lesson from last year, and make sure this team (Cartersville) doesn’t beat us two weeks in a row,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said.

There are 32 teams in the Class AAAA playoffs, and it’ll take five wins to capture the state championship.

Troup and Heritage boast two of the highest-scoring offenses in Class AAAA.

Heritage (9-1), which finished second to unbeaten Ridgeland in Region 6-AAAA, averages 41 points per game.

After a 35-14 loss to Ridgeland, Heritage beat Lafayette 49-13 and Pickens County 49-21 to secure the region’s number two seed.

Senior Blake Bryan has thrown 26 touchdown passes, and Luke Grant has 44 receptions for 819 yards with 14 touchdowns.

Troup, the number three team from Region 5-AAAA, averages 39 points per game.

Montez Crowe, who has had a brilliant senior season, is averaging 321 yards per game with 35 touchdowns.

Kobe Hudson and Jamari Thrash have each caught 13 touchdown passes, and Mark-Anthony Dixon, Ja’Rell Smith and Kenly Bridwell have multiple scoring catches as well.

In the Cartersville game, Troup trailed 31-6 at the half, but it came out strong in the second half.

A 42-yard touchdown pass from Crowe to Thrash and a Carson Wreyford extra point cut Cartersville’s lead to 31-13 early in the third quarter.

After a failed fake-punt attempt by Cartersville, Troup had the ball back with a chance to get even closer.

Troup made it to the 10-yard line when a Cartersville player picked off a pass in the end zone.

The Hurricanes drove 80 yards for a touchdown, and they pulled away from there for their 40th straight win.

Crowe was 14-of-27 for 301 yards with touchdown passes to Kobe Hudson and Thrash, but he also had four interceptions and a pair of lost fumbles.

One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown in the second half.

Hudson, who has more than 20 touchdown catches in his first seasons of high-school football, had six catches for 98 yards against Cartersville.

In the first half, Hudson went airborne and beat his defender in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown catch.

Thrash, who has had a remarkable debut season at Troup, caught three passes for 86 yards with the 42-yard touchdown.

Thrash has been one of the state’s best receivers with 45 catches for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Hudson, who was slowed early in the season with an injury, has 35 catches for 742 yards with 13 touchdowns.

Combined, Thrash and Hudson have 80 catches for 1,757 with 26 touchdowns.

Defensively, Troup made a handful of stops, but Cartersville still scored seven touchdowns on offense.

Many of the Cartersville touchdowns followed a Troup turnovers.

For the first time since the second week of the season, a Cartersville game was still somewhat in doubt in the second half, but Troup was unable to overcome some critical miscues, most notably the turnovers.

“We really felt like we had a chance,” 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.”