After falling to their cross-town rivals the past two seasons, the Grangers returned the favor this year, rolling to a 35-20 victory before a packed house at Callaway Stadium Friday night.
It was a big win for the Grangers (5-4 overall), who improved to 4-2 in Region 5-AAAA and moved a step closer to securing a playoff berth.
LaGrange closes the regular season against Carrollton next week in a game that will determine the region’s number two seed.
The Tigers (3-6 overall), meanwhile, fell to 3-3 in region play and face a must-win scenario next week against Shaw.
LaGrange had it all working in the first half.
After Troup scored first to go up 6-0, LaGrange dominated the rest of the first half to build a 28-6 lead at the break.
With quarterback Zach Giddens leading the way, LaGrange’s offense put together four touchdown drives in the first two quarters.
“We came out really strong, and we came out really fast,” Giddens said. “We just wanted to pick up the pace, and I thought we really executed in the first half.”
Troup struck first, with Daryl Dunlap capping a 53-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
The extra-point attempt was botched, and Troup was up 6-0 with 8:41 left in the opening quarter.
The Grangers responded with a 76-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard keeper by Giddens, and Michael Ward’s extra point made it a 7-6 game with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter.
Demoton Boyd had a 38-yard run to get the Grangers deep in Troup territory.
Troup then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Grangers needed just two plays to score again.
On second down, Giddens found Dee Smith for a 30-yard touchdown, and LaGrange was up 14-6.
After a Troup three-and-out, LaGrange went 78 yards for another score, with Boyd punctuating the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth down, and Troup was down 21-6 with 11:22 left in the half.
Later in the half, after a Troup punt, the Grangers went 63 yards in just four plays to pad their lead.
A 41-yard pass from Giddens to Smith put the ball on the 2-yard line, and Giddens then hit Tavone Rivers for the scoring pass, and Ward’s fourth extra point gave LaGrange a 28-6 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half.
While the offense was clicking early, LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch felt the defensive effort was impressive as well.
“I really thought the difference in us tonight was we played some defense,” Branch said. “That’s the first time we’ve played any defense in awhile. We swapped a little personnel here and there. It was fun to see us flying around and hitting.”
The Grangers added some insurance in the third quarter when Boyd scored on a 21-yard run, and it was a 35-6 game with nine minutes showing on the clock.
Troup, needing a spark, got one when defensive lineman Maurice Swain scooped the ball out of the air after Giddens was hit and lost the ball, and he raced 40 yards for the touchdown.
Troup’s Will Smith found Lemonta Truitt for the two-point conversion pass, and the Grangers’ lead was down to 35-14 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
It remained a 35-14 game into the fourth quarter.
After Troup recovered a fumble, Malcolm Tatum out-leaped his defender in the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Smith.
The extra-point attempt was blocked by Boyd, and LaGrange led 35-20 with 3:45 showing on the clock.
LaGrange was able to run out the clock on its ensuing possession, though, with Giddens hitting Clete Miller for a key third-down conversion pass.
Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said he was “proud of the kids for coming back in the second half and battling,” and that he’s happy with the position his team is in.
Troup controls its own playoff fate heading into next week’s huge game against Shaw.
“We get here in Week 10, and we still have a shot to get in the state playoffs,” Kendall said. “Everybody looks at what seed you get. As long as you get in, that’s what matters. We’ll try to finish off the season with a victory.”