Spalding nearly pulled off what would’ve been a momentum-building win for the second straight week, but instead the Jaguars’ vantage point looks ahead as a 3-3 team that visits a dangerous West Laurens team this Friday. After blowing a 17-0 lead last week to Houston County, Spalding couldn’t close out its 14-7 lead yesterday as Mary Persons was able to score 10 points in the final 2:21 to win 17-14. Alexander Rivera was the hero for the Bulldogs as his 43-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expires. Spalding has led in the second half of all three of its losses. The Jaguars led undefeated Griffin 43-35 with two minutes left in the third quarter, but ended up losing on another game-winning field goal. With these close losses, Spalding clearly has the talent to compete and the game plan in place to attack teams early. Closing games and finding a week to reverse the trend, however, will make the week ahead move a lot more slowly. Spalding is coming off just the second double-digit win season in school history and has already surpassed its loss total from last season (10-2).
Speaking of near upsets, Columbus almost defeated Northside-Columbus for just the second time in nine seasons but instead fell 24-23. After taking a quick 10-0 lead, Northside saw itself down 16-10 heading into the fourth quarter following a Ty Lucas 5-yard run. Northside’s Bryce Valero hit Cordale Scott on a 35-yard touchdown then 40 seconds later at the 5:40 mark of the fourth, Dayshun Johnson jumped a screen pass for a 14-yard interception return to go ahead 24-16. Just 13 seconds later Caleb Bailey connected with Josh Lee on an 80-yard touchdown but instead of going for two to tie, the Blue Devils elected to kick the extra point. Columbus had an opportunity to take the lead after forcing a punt, but the Devils turned the ball over on downs with 1:35 to play, allowing Northside to run the clock out. Columbus has now lost to Hardaway (16-10) and Northside in back-to-back weeks after opening up region play with a historic 46-26 win over Shaw.
While Week 7 was frustrating for both Spalding and Columbus, Troup’s shocking 28-20 win over Sandy Creek will remind any team how much can change in a week, or a season, in the Tigers’ case. Troup was 0-6 at this point last year with then first-year head coach Tanner Glisson. Now, the 5-1 Tigers are in position to play Cartersville in a potential Region 5 championship game on Nov. 4 if they can get past LaGrange, Cedartown and Central-Carroll first.
Troup’s win over the Patriots is the program’s first victory over the three-time former state champs. Last season, Sandy Creek dominated this matchup 41-7 and all five previous meetings had been determined by double-digits.
“What they went through last year, nobody should have to go through it,” Glisson told LaGrange Daily News after the win. “And we did it. And these kids, kudos to them and how they were raised. I’m so proud of those guys. It’s a wonderful win. That’s [Sandy Creek] a great football team. Don’t take anything away from them. But we were the better football team tonight. … Our coaching staff coached their tails off and made great adjustments, and had a great game plan. I really just love each and every one of them.”
Quarterback Mason Crowe threw the first of his two touchdown passes and freshman Kobe Hutson took an interception 75 yards for a Troup touchdown to lock up a 14-14 tie as the teams entered the second half. The Tigers continued to attack and grew a 28-14 lead with a Crowe touchdown pass to Macenta Stafford and a Camren Russel rushing touchdown with just 2:07 left in the game.
Troup is off this upcoming week and will play LaGrange on Oct. 14. LaGrange plays at Cartersville this week so Glisson and the staff will get to scout the two teams currently sharing the region lead with them.