Troup handles Oconee in playoff opener
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Step one is in the books.
The Troup Tigers handled Oconee County 42-28 on a drizzly Thursday night at Callaway Stadium to advance to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
It was a momentous night for the Tigers (10-1), who are accomplishing things that haven’t been done at Troup in a while.
“We’re just excited to get that,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “That’s the first 10-win season here in a long time, since 2003. And that’s the first time we’ve won playoff games in consecutive years since 1986 and 1987. So it’s a big step for us.”
Troup got it done offensively with a formidable running attack that Oconee had no answer for, with Tyree Carlisle and Trey Williams combining for four scoring runs.
The Tigers also had success in the passing game, with Kobe Hudson finding Joko Willis for a 60-yard touchdown.
Willis added a 56-yard catch that set up another touchdown.
Troup’s defense got into the act as well, with Andy Boykin scoring on a 2-yard fumble return after King Mwikuta stripped the ball from Oconee County quarterback Max Johnson.
Troup will play either Pickens County or White County next week with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line.
“We’re working harder and harder every day,” Willis said. “We’re grinding. We’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Oconee County hung tough for much of the game.
The Warriors were within seven after Andre Witt returned a kickoff for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but the Tigers put together back-to-back scoring drives to go up 42-21 early in the final quarter.
The Warriors scored a touchdown to get within 14 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Tigers ran out the clock when they got the ball back.
Oconee County struck first, with Johnson hooking up with Jackson Manders on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 3:30 to play in the first quarter.
After punting on their first two possessions, the Tigers went to work the third time they got the ball.
Outside of an 11-yard completion from Hudson to Jamari Thrash, the Tigers did it on the ground during the nine-play, 64-yard scoring drive.
Carlisle did a lot of the damage with six carries for 37 yards, including a 4-yard scoring run.
Helsyn Martinez made the first of his six extra-point attempts, and the game was tied 7-7 with 1:06 to play in the opening quarter.
The Tigers showed off their big-play ability on their next possession, which began at their own 40-yard line.
On first down, Hudson delivered a strike to Willis over the middle, and the senior receiver left the would-be tacklers behind on the way to a 60-yard touchdown, and Troup led 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Moments later the Tigers got the ball back, with Alonzo Ogletree picking off a pass after Nick Ligon made the deflection.
The Tigers were unable to turn that break into points, but later in the quarter, the defense came through with another big play to extend the lead.
On third down, Mwikuta broke through and got to Johnson and forced a fumble.
The ball rolled toward the goal line, and Boykin scooped it up and scored, and with 2:27 left in the first half Troup led 21-7.
The Warriors answered with a 58-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 13-yard scoring pass from Max Johnson to Jake Johnson.
The Tigers got to the Warriors’ 39-yard line on their final possession of the half before time ran out, and the home team led 21-14 at the break.
The Tigers got the ball first at the start of the second half, and they went 68 yards in eight plays to make it a 14-point game.
Carlisle finished off the drive with a 17-yard run, which came one play after Hudson completed a 9-yard pass to Ja’Rell Smith.
That 14-point lead was cut in half moments later, with Witt taking the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for the score, and with 9:21 to play in the third quarter Troup’s lead was 28-21.
Troup went right back to work, using its ground game to pound out yards and take time off the clock.
Williams completed the 13-play, 59-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run, and Troup’s lead was 35-21 with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
Oconee County found itself in Troup territory on its next drive, but it turned the ball over on downs at the 31-yard line.
The Tigers scored quickly.
On the same play they scored on earlier, Hudson hooked up with Willis for a 56-yard completion.
On the next play, Carlisle’s 4-yard touchdown run and the extra point gave Troup a 42-21 cushion with 11:37 left in the game.
The Warriors got closer with Miles Pettway scoring on a 45-yard run with 5:49 to play, but the Tigers nailed things down by picking up a few first downs on their final possession.
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