Tigers hang tough with Hurricanes
Published 1:14 am Saturday, November 9, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers stood toe-to-toe with the powerful Cartersville Purple Hurricanes on Friday night before falling 45-35 in a thriller at Callaway Stadium.
While the Tigers were disappointed to lose a game they felt they had a great chance to win, they got some good news when they found out that Cedartown had beaten Chapel Hill.
With that result Troup earned the number four seed from Region 5-AAAA, and it will play Region 7-AAAA champion Blessed Trinity in the first round next week.
Last season, Blessed Trinity beat Troup in the semifinals
on the way to a state championship.
The Purple Hurricanes came into Friday’s game with an eighth consecutive region title already in the bag, and they were going for a state-record-tying 58th consecutive regular-season victory.
While Cartersville did eventually get that historic victory to tie Camden County for the longest regular-season winning streak in state history, it didn’t come easily.
The Tigers were within three points late in the third quarter before the Purple Hurricanes scored back-to-back touchdowns to go up by 17 and put the game away.
“I’m extremely proud,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s fifth-year head coach. “But the biggest deal is, I wasn’t hired for moral victories. We felt like we had a realistic shot.”
The Tigers finished the regular season with a 6-4 record, and they went 3-3 in region play to earn the fourth spot.
It hasn’t always been a smooth journey for the Tigers, but they achieved their goal of making it to the playoffs, and they’re playing their best football at the right time.
“I’m proud of the way we came out and fought,” said Andy Boykin, a senior defensive lineman for the Tigers. “We never had a game with Cartersville that close. I’m proud of my teammates and this senior class and how we fought all year through all the adversity.”
Trailing 31-21, the Tigers got within three on a Kobe Hudson 5-yard touchdown run and a Cody Bray extra point with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
The Purple Hurricanes came right back moments later with a touchdown of their own to regain a 10-point lead, and they added another touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to effectively end the suspense.
Troup got a touchdown pass from Hudson to Schweizer with 12 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.
Hudson, who is putting the finishing touches on a spectacular high-school career, did a terrific job of leading the Troup offense and he had two touchdown passes and a scoring run.
Senior running back Trey Williams, who has run for more than 1,000 yards this season, had two touchdown runs, both in the first quarter.
“This was a tough one,” Glisson said. “It was physical. We’re beat up. We expected to win the game, and we didn’t, but there’s a reason they’re number one. They know how to win those games.”
Cartersville scored on its opening possession, with Evan Slocum’s 9-yard touchdown run capping the drive.
Troup came right back and went 66 yards for a touchdown of its own, with Williams scoring on a 1-yard run.
The Tigers did it mostly on the ground, with Hudson also completing a 15-yard pass to Schweizer.
Cody Bray made the first of his five extra points, and the game was tied at 7-7 with 5:26 left in the opening quarter.
Later in the first quarter, Zy Varner blocked a punt, giving Troup the ball at the Cartersville 9-yard line.
On the next play, Williams took a handoff from Hudson and scored on a 9-yard run, and Troup led 14-7 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter.
Back came the Purple Hurricanes, who got a 1-yard touchdown run from Harrison Allen in the second quarter to deadlock the score at 14-14.
Mark-Anthony Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff to the 38-yard line, setting the Tigers up in nice field position.
Hudson’s 28-yard run put the ball on the Purple Hurricanes’ 32-yard line, and the Tigers scored two plays later.
Hudson was under duress in the backfield, but he managed to stay on his feet, and he got a pass away to Marquavious Kelley, who made the catch at the 30-yard line and raced to the end zone for the touchdown.
With a little more than a minute left in the first half, the Tigers had a 21-14 lead.
The Purple Hurricanes, it turns out, had just enough time to notch the equalizing touchdown.
Ross took the kickoff and returned it all the way to the Troup 15-yard line, and Ross then caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Webb.
The successful extra-point attempt tied the game at 21-21, and that was the score at the half.
“The kickoff return before halftime was a killer,” Glisson said. “It wasn’t anything schematic. We feel like we fixed all of that. We were gassed. A lot of those guys had been on offense, and then we turned around and kicked. I had no more timeouts so I couldn’t rest us. We were huffing and puffing. That was a huge play. We go into the half up 21-14, who knows, and we’re getting the ball.”
The Tigers had the ball first to start the second half, but they gave the ball away on a fumble.
Cartersville was on the move, but Troup made a nice defensive stand inside its own 10-yard line to force a field-goal attempt, which Oscar Hernandez made to give his team a 24-21 lead.
The Purple Hurricanes then got the ball back when Marko Dudley intercepted a Hudson pass, and Webb’s 54-yard touchdown run put the Tigers in a 31-21 hole late in the third quarter.
The Tigers needed a spark, and Dixon provided it with a kickoff return to the Purple Hurricanes’ 28-yard line.
After a Williams 22-yard run, Hudson scored on a 6-yard run, and with 1:02 left in the third quarter Cartersville’s lead was down to 31-28.
The Purple Hurricanes, though, showed off their explosiveness moments later, with Webb connecting with Kyler Johnson for a 50-yard touchdown, and the lead was 38-28 in the closing moments of the third quarter.
The Tigers, in desperate need of points to stay in the game, made it inside the Purple Hurricanes’ 30-yard line on their next possession before a fourth-down play failed.
That drive was kept alive by a 10-yard run by Navontae Moss with the Tigers deep in their own territory.
Cartersville, which a chance to put the game away with a touchdown, did just that, going 78 yards for the score.
Harrison Allen capped that drive with a 13-yard touchdown run, and Cartersville led 45-28.
The Tigers kept coming, and Schweizer caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hudson with 12 seconds left.