Tigers fighting for playoffs
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was one of those nights for the Troup Tigers.
Facing the home-standing Cedartown Bulldogs on a muddy, messy field, the Tigers were unable to get much going offensively on the way to a 15-8 loss in a critical Region 5-AAAA game on Friday night.
A win would have guaranteed no worse than a third-place finish in the region for the Tigers and would have assured them of a spot in the state playoffs, but now they’ve still got some work to do.
If Troup (5-3 overall, 2-2 in Region 5-AAAA) beats Central-Carroll on Friday night at Callaway Stadium, it will secure one of the region’s four state-playoff spots.
If Troup loses to Central, it could still make the playoffs, but it would likely have to beat Cartersville in the regular-season finale to make that happen.
“It’s a must-win as far as playoff implications,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s fifth-year head coach.
For the fourth consecutive year, Troup and Cedartown played a game that wasn’t decided until the closing moments, and they’ve each won twice on their home field.
“We talked about the last three games coming down to the last series, the last possession, and that’s exactly what happened this Friday,” Glisson said.
In last week’s game, the Tigers scored a first-half touchdown to take an 8-3 lead, but it was mostly a difficult night offensively, due in large part to the poor field conditions.
It rained much of the day, and since Cedartown has a natural-grass field, it was in rough shape by game time.
“When we got there, they told us that it had rained nearly three inches during the day. So the field was already saturated,” Glisson said. “There were periods where it was absolutely flooding.”
The Tigers were held to fewer than 200 yards offensively, although Hudson did have a rushing touchdown in the first half, and Trey Williams had the two-point conversion run to give Troup an 8-3 lead.
Cedartown led 9-8 at the half, and it capped the scoring with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
For the Bulldogs, future Clemson running back Kobe Pryor had touchdown runs of four and seven yards, and they also made a field goal in the first half.
“We had opportunities to win the game,” Glisson said. “I hate that we lost, but it was actually a good high-school football game.”
Troup struggled on special teams, particularly in the punting department with Mark-Anthony Dixon out with an injury, which led to Glisson making a difficult decision midway through the fourth quarter.
The Tigers had fourth down at their own 6-yard line, and Glisson opted to go for it rather than attempt a punt.
The fourth-and-five play failed, and the Bulldogs punched it in for a touchdown to take a 15-8 lead.
The Tigers began that possession at their own 1-yard line after making a goal-line stand, and they picked up five yards before coming up short on fourth down.
Had Troup stayed near its own goal line, Glisson was considering taking a safety.
The Tigers picked up enough yards to make the fourth down manageable, so Glisson opted to go for it rather than try a punt which would have been risky.
“I thought we might as well just go for it and try to get a first down,” Glisson said. “We went for it and didn’t get it.”
After the Bulldogs scored, the Tigers still had a chance to win the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but they were unable to make it happen.
A bright spot was the performance of a defense that has come on strong.
While the Bulldogs scored two touchdowns, they had barely 100 yards of offense.
“The defense has played extremely well the past couple of weeks, and we just need to get clicking a little bit offensively,” Glisson said.
As far as the performance of the offense, though, Glisson added that “it was a bad night to try to judge that.”
Troup now turns its attention to a Central-Carroll team that is still very much in the playoff fight with a 1-3 region record.
If Central beat Troup, it would move into fourth place in the region with one regular-season game remaining.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will be fighting for their playoff lives, and Glisson has no doubt the players will give it everything they have.
“From the day I walked in the door, I always felt like over the past five years that our teams no matter what, will go out there and fight their tails off,” Glisson said. “I don’t think it’ll be any different that we’re 5-3. I think we’ll go out there and we’ll battle and we’ll compete. We pride ourselves on that.”