Unbeaten Troup handles LaGrange
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was an electrifying start.
The thousands of fans at Callaway Stadium had barely settled into their seats for Friday’s showdown between Troup and LaGrange when Trey Williams caught the opening kickoff at his own 40-yard line.
Williams, a play-making junior for Troup, caught the ball, and he went to his left and saw nothing but green turf between himself and the end zone.
Williams sprinted the distance for the touchdown, giving Troup the early lead against its cross-town rival.
Troup (7-0 overall) led the rest of the way en route to a 35-14 victory to improve to 4-0 in Region 5-AAAA with three regular-season games remaining.
LaGrange (1-6 overall) hung tough after falling behind 21-0 late in the first half, but it was unable to avoid falling to 0-3 in the region.
It was the first time Troup has ever beaten LaGrange three consecutive years, and it sets up a critical home game against Cedartown next Friday with possible home-field advantage in the state playoffs on the line.
“This is the first group that’s beaten that team three times in a row, so that’s good for them,” said Tanner Glisson, who is the first Troup head coach to beat LaGrange three times. “We’re glad to have that one behind us, and we can move on, and next week’s a big one because it’s for home-field advantage. If we win next week, we’re pretty much sitting at one or two. So we’ll see what happens.”
It was LaGrange’s second consecutive game against an unbeaten team.
LaGrange lost to Cartersville 45-7 last week, and it was much more competitive against Troup.
“We’ve got very talented kids, good high-school players, that are trying to compete to go to the next level,” said Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s first-year head coach. “Playing Cartersville, playing Troup, they get to go against the best. The will and the determination is there. They play hard. They’ve earned my respect. They don’t quit.”
Kobe Hudson, Troup’s junior quarterback, accounted for three of his team’s touchdowns.
Hudson had scoring runs of eight and three yards, and he threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Trea Mitchell.
Troup also got an 11-yard touchdown run from Tyree Carlisle.
While the Tigers moved the ball well, they also turned the ball over four times, and that included an interception inside the Grangers’ 5-yard line.
“We’ve got to clean some stuff up if we’re going to be the team we want to be and go where we want to go,” Glisson said. “We’ve got to do a better job of coaching, a better job of handling our emotions and stuff like that. We can’t turn the ball over in the red zone.”
LaGrange had its most productive offensive effort of the season, with quarterback Charles Crawford hooking up with Jordan Ogletree for touchdowns of 19 and 38 yards.
Defensively, the Grangers got interceptions from Jakoby Smith, Vondez Taylor and Ogletree, and they also forced a fumble.
The Grangers were down five starters for various reasons, and Gibbs said there were six players going both ways.
Despite that, LaGrange was within 14 points in the fourth quarter before Troup put it away.
LaGrange finishes the regular season with three home games, beginning with Thursday’s matchup with Sandy Creek.
The Grangers were playing from behind from the get-go, with Williams’ kickoff return and the first of five Helsyn Martinez extra points making it a 7-0 game.
Troup thought it had extended its lead when Tyree Carlisle returned an interception for a touchdown, but a penalty negated the play.
The Tigers padded their lead in the second quarter when they went 68 yards in five plays for the touchdown.
Williams turned a screen pass into a 31-yard completion to put the ball in LaGrange territory, and two plays later, Carlisle’s 11-yard touchdown run and the extra point gave Troup a 14-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.
After an Andy Boykin sack forced a punt, Troup drove 52 yards for their third touchdown of the game, with Hudson scoring on an 8-yard run with 1:15 remaining in the quarter.
With a little more than a minute left in the half, the Grangers took over at their own 40-yard line, and they went to work.
Crawford found Ogletree for a 33-yard completion into LaGrange territory, and two plays later, those two connected again for a 19-yard touchdown.
Ben Ivey’s extra point made it a 21-7 game, and that was the score at the half.
In the third quarter, the Tigers extended their lead with a 60-yard touchdown drive that was helped out by a successful fake-punt attempt.
On fourth-and-four from the Troup 36-yard line, Kevin Martin took the direct snap, and he muscled his way forward for the first-down run.
Hudson then completed passes of 17 yards to Ja’Rell Smith and 23 yards to Joko Willis, putting the ball on the 5-yard line.
Three plays later, Hudson’s 3-yard keeper with 50 seconds to play in the third quarter gave Troup a 28-7 lead.
Back came LaGrange, which needed three plays to get within 14 once again.
The Grangers took over at the Tigers’ 41-yard line following an unsuccessful onside kick, and on third down, it was Ogletree hauling in a 38-yard touchdown catch from Crawford, and it was a 28-14 game heading into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers answered the Grangers’ touchdown with one of their own, going 72 yards for the score.
The big play on the drive was a 60-yard completion from Hudson to Willis that put the ball inside the LaGrange 10-yard line.
The Tigers got knocked back to the 18-yard line following a penalty, but they scored anyway.
Hudson scrambled to his right and threw the ball back to his left, and Mitchell made the pass in between a pair of LaGrange defenders for the 18-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
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