Tigers can’t overcome tough start
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
CARTERSVILLE – It wasn’t the start the Troup Tigers were looking for.
Friday’s region-championship showdown wasn’t two minutes old, and the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes already had a 14-0 lead.
That’s how the night mostly went for the Tigers, who lost 43-10 in their regular-season finale.
Cartersville (10-0) won the Region 5-AAAA title and will be the number one seed for the Class AAAA state playoffs, while Troup (9-1) finished second and will host a playoff game next week.
“We haven’t played our best in the last few weeks, and it showed tonight. It came up and bit us,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “We can go and feel sorry for ourselves and get beat by Cartersville two weeks in a row, or we can use this as a positive. And thank God it did not happen in the playoffs.”
Troup will host Region 8-AAAA’s number three team on Thursday at Callaway Stadium.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got to coach better, and we’ve got to play better, and hopefully we’ll start that on Sunday,” Glisson said.
Cartersville scored two touchdowns in less than 90 seconds to take an early strangle-hold on the game.
On the game’s first play from scrimmage, Marcus Gary took a handoff from quarterback Tee Webb, and he raced untouched 77 yards for the touchdown.
Moments later, it was Cartersville’s defense getting into the act.
On a second-down play, Amari Orr picked off a Kobe Hudson pass, and he went 45 yards for the touchdowns, and Troup was in a 14-0 hole.
The Tigers put together their best drive of the night the second time they got the ball, going from their own 23-yard line to the Purple Hurricanes’ 17-yard line, setting up a Helsyn Martinez 36-yard field goal.
The big play on the drive was a 47-yard completion from Hudson to Jamari Thrash, and Hudson also found Joko Willis for an 18-yard completion.
After the teams traded punts, Cartersville padded its lead with Webb hooking up with Devonte Ross for a 46-yard touchdown, and the lead was 21-3 with 1:49 to play in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Cartersville went for it on fourth down, and tight end Jackson Lowe hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Webb, and the lead was 28-3 with 8:23 left in the first half.
The Tigers got into Hurricanes’ territory on their final possession of the half thanks to a 25-yard run by Trey Williams, but the drive stalled and they had to punt.
Cartersville ran out the clock to take a 28-3 lead at the half.
For a while in the third quarter, it looked like the Tigers were going to make things interesting.
After Mark-Anthony Dixon returned the second-half kickoff to the Cartersville 21-yard line, Hudson scored three plays later on a 4-yard run.
Martinez made the extra point, and with 11:07 left in the third quarter, Cartersville’s lead was down to 28-10.
The Tigers made a defensive stop to get the ball back, but they lost 14 yards on a recovered fumble and had to punt from their own 4-yard line.
Two plays later, Webb’s 5-yard keeper gave Cartersville a 34-10 lead midway through the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Troup’s defense stood tall and stopped Cartersville on a fourth-down play at the 2-yard line.
On the next play, though, Cartersville made a tackle in the end zone for a safety, and the deficit was 36-10 with 2:40 to play in the third quarter.
After the free kick, Cartersville drove 53 yards for the touchdown, with Gary scoring on a 12-yard run, and the lead was 43-10.
Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff to the Cartersville 32-yard line, but Troup gave the ball right back on a fumble.
The fourth quarter went quickly with a running clock, and when time ran out, it was Cartersville celebrating its seventh consecutive region championship.
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