On a night of impressive plays, it may have been the best of the bunch.
The Troup Tigers were already holding a 20-0 lead when they found themselves with the ball on the LaGrange 26-yard line late in the first half.
It was third-and-long, and Troup went with a conservative play call.
Of course when that play call involves Dre Towns getting the ball, there’s always a chance something big will happen.
Towns took a handoff from quarterback Will Smith, and it looked like the play was going nowhere.
Towns shrugged off a couple of tackle attempts, though, and he busted through the line of scrimmage and 26 yards later found himself standing in the end zone.
It was a remarkable display of power, tenacity and speed by Towns.
Head coach Lynn Kendall called it a “spectacular” play, and it was part of a monster first half for Towns.
Towns had 82 yards on 10 carries in the first half, and he had scoring runs of five, 12, 26 and one yards as the Tigers took a 36-0 lead at the break.
Towns ended up running for more than 100 yards, but unfortunately, his night ended when he suffered a broken leg in the fourth quarter.
Towns had a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter, and even though the Tigers had a comfortable lead, he was still fighting for every yard.
Without Towns, the Tigers will rely on some other talented running backs to carry the load.
One of those backs is Dexter Shealey, who had a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to get the scoring started Friday night.
Mess Bonner, whose first two runs Friday night covered 24 yards, will also likely see an increased workload.
Quarterback Will Smith is also a capable runner, and he had an 11-yard run Friday night.
“We’ve got some running backs who will have to step it up a couple of notches, and continue growing,” Kendall said.
TURNING POINT: It was a key defensive play that ignited the Troup Tigers Friday night.
On a second-down play in the first quarter, Troup’s Austin Carter came up with an interception, setting the Tigers up at the Grangers’ 18-yard line.
Four plays later, Dexter Shealey scored a touchdown, and the Tigers were off and running.
Later in the half, Troup’s Tristan Thompson recovered a fumble, setting up another touchdown.
By the time the dust settled and the first half ended, the Tigers had a 36-0 lead.
Troup’s defense, which includes a bunch of new starters, delivered a dominant performance Friday night, particularly in the first half.
After getting a couple of first downs on their first possession, the Grangers didn’t get another first down in the first half.
“I can’t hardly express how happy I am with the way they stepped up,” Kendall said of the defensive players. “Solid defense, good solid tackling, very few miscues, aggressive, but also being under control.”
BIG-PLAY HARDY: Coming into the season, LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks hoped junior wide receiver Mike Hardy would be a source of big plays in the passing game.
Hardy only had one catch in Friday’s game against Troup, but it was an electrifying one.
In the closing moments of a 36-14 loss, LaGrange quarterback Amad Ogletree heaved the ball deep in Hardy’s direction.
The ball was deflected by a Troup defensive player, and an alert Hardy came down with the ball for a 46-yard touchdown.
The play capped an encouraging second-half effort for the Grangers, who outscored the Tigers 14-0 in the final two quarters.
Mon Denson had a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“It’s a testament to who they are, and what the coaching staff can get out of them, for them to come back and put on that performance in the second half,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said.
TWO-WAY THREAT: Junior Emmanuel Mann’s primary contributions this season will come on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive lineman.
During Friday’s game against Troup, though, Mann showed he can be an offensive threat as well.
On the Grangers’ first possession, Mann lined up at tight end, and he caught a short pass from Amad Ogletree and ended up with a 14-yard completion.
Mann, a junior, is a veteran on a defense with a lot of new players this season.
Mann is also a wrestling standout at the school, and he competed in the state tournament the past two seasons.
COSTLY TURNOVER: Through the first two weeks of the season, turnovers have been a big problem for the Callaway Cavaliers.
They overcame five turnovers in the season opener against the LaGrange Grangers as they won 20-14 in overtime.
They were unable to overcome a costly turnover in last week’s game against B.E.S.T. Academy, though.
Late in the first half, it looked like the Cavaliers were about to score the game’s first points when an Eddie Culpepper run put the ball inside the B.E.S.T. 5-yard line.
Before the Cavaliers could score, they fumbled the ball, and a B.E.S.T. player recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
That play ended up being extremely costly in a 14-7 loss.
Culpepper did give the Cavaliers a touchdown in the third quarter, but B.E.S.T. scored the game’s final 14 points.
LATE START: Kickoff time for Friday’s game between Callaway and B.E.S.T. Academy was set for 7:30 p.m. at Grady Stadium in Atlanta.
Because an earlier game ran long, though, Callaway’s game didn’t begin until about 8:45, more than an hour after the scheduled start time.
It was a frustrating experience for the Cavaliers, but head coach Pete Wiggins said it wasn’t the reason they lost.
“No excuses,” Wiggins said. “Both teams were playing under the same conditions.”