Turnovers were costly for Tigers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
One number stood out.
There were some bright spots for the Troup Tigers during Friday’s season opener against Harris County, including a memorable touchdown run by Anthony Ferguson that nearly covered the entire field, but they were unable to overcome six critical turnovers, as well as a blocked punt, during the 28-14 loss.
“There were some positive things,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “We’ve got to clean up turnovers. That’s the biggest thing.”
Some of the turnovers proved particularly costly.
In the second half, the Tigers were inside the 15-yard line needing a touchdown and an extra point to tie it at 14-14, but an interception ended that threat.
Later in the half, Troup was still within seven, but it lost a fumble on its own 5-yard line, and that led to a Harris County touchdown to push the lead to 14.
While Harris County got some advantageous field position with the turnovers, it still had to put the ball in the end zone, and it did so four times with quarterback Cooper Corey leading the way.
For Troup, quarterback Taeo Todd had some nice moments and grew more comfortable as the game went along, but he also made some mistakes expected of a freshman playing in his first varsity game.
“Their quarterback made plays, and ours is young, and learning,” Glisson said. “That was probably the biggest difference.”
Glisson figured there would be some bumps in the road with a freshman quarterback, but he was pleased with what he saw from Todd.
Todd showed the ability to scramble and make positive plays in the running game, and he had long completions to Dwartney Wortham and Marquavious Kelley.
“That was a pretty intense game, and I thought (Todd) kept his composure,” Glisson said. “I’m sure there are a couple of plays he’d like to have back, but you see the glimpses of what it can be, and we’re willing to take our lumps right now to see how this thing can play out.”
Another Troup player making his varsity debut was Ferguson, who transferred from Manchester where he was a standout player.
Ferguson was brilliant with 202 yards on the ground, and he had two touchdowns, including one that went for 97 yards.
Troup was trailing 14-0 and backed up near its own goal line when Ferguson took a handoff from Todd, and he outraced the Harris County defense for the memorable touchdown.
Ferguson added a 29-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter that got the Tigers within seven once again after they’d fallen behind 21-7.
Senior running back Navontae Moss also had a productive game, although he was slowed by an injury, meaning Ferguson had to carry much of the offensive load.
“We had to rely on (Ferguson) a little too much,” Glisson said. “Moss got nicked up a little bit, and we would have loved to have kept running him out there as well.”
Defensively, Glisson felt coming into the season that the defensive line would be a strength of the team, and that was the case against Harris County.
A breakout player for Troup was freshman defensive lineman Qua Birdsong, who had six tackles with three sacks, and he also had an interception in the first half.
Senior Xavier Clarke had six total tackles with five solo stops, and he had a sack, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hurry.
Christopher Hilton had seven tackles with two tackles for loss, Jordan Adams had six tackles with three for loss and two quarterback hurries, and Zy Varner added six tackles with one for loss.
Senior defensive back Jace Godwin, meanwhile, led the Tigers with nine total tackles, and three of them were for loss.
Among the linebackers, sophomore AJ Tucker led the way with seven tackles, while defensive back Navontae Moss had four tackles, and defensive backs Marquavious Kelley and Sirr Morgan had three tackles apiece.
Troup will face the rival Callaway Cavaliers on Friday before taking two weeks off before the start of Region 2-AAAA play against Hardaway.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to get ready to play, but we’ve still got time before we get to region,” Glisson said. “That’s the biggest thing.”