Turnovers hurt Tigers in season-opening loss
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
HAMILTON – Anthony Ferguson made an explosive debut, but the Troup Tigers were unable to overcome six turnovers on the way to a 28-14 loss to Harris County in the season opener for both teams.
Ferguson, a senior running back who transferred to Troup from Manchester, had two impressive touchdown runs, including one that covered 97 yards.
Ferguson also had a 29-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter that got Troup within seven, and it had the ball deep in Harris County territory on its next possession with an opportunity to tie it with a touchdown and an extra point.
That possession ended with an interception, though, and Harris County extended its lead to 14 when it scored a touchdown later in the quarter after Troup fumbled on its own 5-yard line.
Turnovers were an unfortunate story of the night for Troup, which also had a punt blocked in the first half that led to a Harris County touchdown.
“The big deal is we’ve got to take care of the football,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “Six turnovers, and we only received two. I firmly believed we were in really good shape, just from a conditioning standpoint. I felt we were starting to impose ourselves a little bit in the second half, but we couldn’t get out of our own way.”
Harris County’s first touchdown came on the game’s opening possession, with quarterback Cooper Corey doing a lot of the work.
Despite being sacked twice, Corey led Harris County on a 56-yard scoring drive, and he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Nazir Easter with 9:49 left in the first quarter.
Troup took over at its own 35-yard line following the kickoff, and freshman quarterback Taeo Todd made his way onto the field for his first start.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that possession ended quickly with a lost fumble, but they got the ball right back on an interception by Qua Birdsong.
Troup couldn’t pick up a first down, though, and Harris County blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the 15-yard line.
Moments later, Corey scored on a 13-yard run, and Harris County was up 14-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
While Troup couldn’t get on track offensively, the defense stood firm and kept the deficit at 14 points.
Troup did have the ball in Harris County territory once in the second quarter, but a lost fumble, the fourth turnover of the first half, ended that threat.
Trailing 14-0, Troup began its second possession of the second half at its own 3-yard line, and that’s when Ferguson showed off his explosiveness.
Ferguson took a handoff from Todd, and he found a hole and went through the middle and outraced the Harris County defense for an electrifying 97-yard touchdown run.
Cody Bray made the extra point, and Harris County’s lead was 14-7 with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Harris County answered with a touchdown of its own, with K.D. Hutchinson’s 28-yard scoring run and the extra point extending the lead to 21-7 with 5:29 to play in the third quarter.
That’s the way it remained until Ferguson found the end zone again early in the fourth quarter with a 29-yard scoring run, and with the Bray extra point, Harris County’s lead was 21-14 with 10:56 remaining.
Harris County then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Troup was in business with a chance to deadlock the score.
A 23-yard run by Ferguson put the ball inside the 15-yard line, but three plays later, Harris County came up with a critical interception.
Another costly turnover led to Harris County’s final touchdown.
Troup was pinned deep following a punt, and a lost fumble gave Harris County the ball at the 5-yard line.
On the next play, KD Hutchinson scored on a 5-yard run, and the extra point extended the lead to 28-14 with 7:30 left, and that’s the way it ended.
While it was a tough night for the Tigers, particularly on offense with the six turnovers, there were bright spots.
Todd grew more comfortable as the game went along, and he completed a pair of long passes, one to Dwartney Wortham, and the other to Marquavious Kelley.
Ferguson also showed the sort of big-play ability that helped him run for nearly 1,700 yards last season at Manchester.
Troup will play its first game at Callaway Stadium next Friday when it faces Callaway.