Troup region title hopes remain alive after LaGrange win
By Kevin Eckleberry
The Troup Tigers withstood an inspired effort by the LaGrange Grangers to earn a hard-fought 21-6 victory on Friday night at Callaway Stadium.
Trailing 14-0, the Grangers scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to get within eight, and they recovered an onside kick moments later and made it to the Tigers’ 2-yard line before being pushed back.
The Tigers got a late touchdown pass from Kobe Hudson to Zy Varner to cap the scoring, and they held on to beat their cross-town rivals for the fourth straight year.
Troup (6-2 overall) improved to 3-1 in Region 5-AAAA and remained in the hunt for the region championship, while LaGrange (2-5 overall) fell to 0-3 in region play.
“It’s a good win,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson, who improved to 4-1 against LaGrange. “No Troup team has won four in a row in this rivalry on our side, so we’re fortunate to do that, and I’m proud of our guys.”
While it was a losing night for the Grangers, there were plenty of positives, and head coach Chuck Gibbs is hoping his team can make the most of the remainder of the season.
“We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re trying to get there,” Gibbs said. “As we get more kids back (from injuries), we’re going to get better. We’re looking to make sure we’re in a position to compete for the last three games, and hopefully, win some.”
For Troup, Hudson threw two touchdown passes, both to Varner, and Trey Williams had a scoring run.
LaGrange’s lone touchdown came with 9:12 left in the game on a 20-yard touchdown run by Kale Gibbs, which came one play after a determined Caleb Ross carried a bunch of Troup defenders for a 24-yard run.
After the Gibbs scoring run, the Grangers recovered the onside kick, and they made it inside the 10-yard line on a 25-yard run by Andre Canty.
The Grangers got as far as the 2-yard line before they started going backward, and they ended up at the 33-yard line after quarterback Charles Crawford was called for intentional grounding while being pressured by Andy Boykin.
Rather than go for it on fourth-and-goal more than 30 yards from the end zone, LaGrange punted, and Troup started at its 20-yard line on the touchback.
The Tigers got a couple of first downs on runs by Hudson and Williams before Hudson threw a strike to Varner on a crossing pattern, and the junior receiver raced into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown.
Cody Bray made his third and final extra point of the night, and Troup led 21-6 with 4:01 to play.
The Grangers went three-and-out on their final possession, with Jordan Adams coming through with a big sack on second down.
After a punt, the Tigers picked up a pair of first downs to run out the clock.
Williams, who had a strong night running the ball, wasn’t a bit surprised to find his team ensnared in a close game, despite LaGrange’s struggles this season.
“We expected them to come out and play hard,” Williams said. “It’s a rivalry game.”
Ross believes the Grangers left everything they had on the field.
“We just fought to the end,” Ross said. “We knew we weren’t the better team, but we fought. They punched, and we punched back.”
The game was scoreless for most of the first half, with Troup finally breaking through with 1:14 left in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hudson to Varner.
LaGrange threatened to score some points of its own, with Crawford completing passes of 27 yards to Dylan Norvell and 10 yards to Sam Yates to put the ball in Troup territory.
The drive eventually stalled thanks to a sack by Jabralin Gooden, though, and Troup took a 7-0 lead at the half.
The Grangers were on the move again in the third quarter, making it to the Tigers’ 30-yard line when Andy Boykin came through with a fourth-down sack.
Troup promptly drove 60 yards in nine plays for the touchdown, with Williams scoring on an 8-yard run to push the lead to 14-0 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
In desperate need of points, LaGrange’s offense put together its best drive of the night, going 69 yards in six plays for the touchdown
Ross had two runs for a combined 40 yards on the drive, and Crawford also completed a 19-yard pass to Cole Crawford.
Ross provided one of the night’s top highlights when he refused to go down despite having a host of Troup defenders on his back, and he was finally tackled at the 20-yard line.
Kale Gibbs scored on the next play, and even though the extra-point attempt was unsuccessful, it was a one-possession game, with Troup leading 14-6.
The Grangers maintained the momentum when they recovered the ensuing onside kick, but they couldn’t make it into the end zone, and the Tigers were able to regain control of the game and secure the win.
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