Troup coach Charles Flowers came away with a key region win over Shaw on Thursday at Kinnett Stadium on a night designated to honor the biggest victory of his coaching career on that same field.
Flowers, who coached Shaw from 1992-2005, and a group of former Shaw players and assistant coaches were honored on the field in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of the Raiders’ Class AAAA state championship.
Three hours later Flowers still had something to celebrate.
Troup’s Quan Bray rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries to lead the Tigers (5-3, 3-1 Region 6-AAA) to a 26-7 victory, putting Troup in second place in the region and keeping alive the possibility of a region title. Shaw dropped to 2-6 overall and 2-2 in region play and is still in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Bray switched in and out at quarterback with Brannon Smith. Bray ran the ball or handed it off on most of the snaps he took, and Smith handled the majority of the passing duties to give the Tigers offense multiple threats.
“We did some things differently with Bray at quarterback, and that kind of sparked the guys,” Flowers said.
Troup took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 42-yard Jordan Vann field goal and went ahead 10-0 on drive on which Bray had 58 yards and a 1-yard touchdown with 3:58 left in the first half.
Shaw answered on the next drive after a strange play that featured two fumbles and returned possession to the Raiders. A Shaw player took a handoff at the Troup 35 and dove up the middle, but fumbled. A Troup player recovered several yards behind the line of scrimmage and ran the ball to about the Shaw 28 before Upshaw swooped by, stripped the ball and carried it 33 yards for a first down. Two plays later, Upshaw took a handoff around the left side of the line and cut up the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown with 3:00 left in the half.
“Malcolm is one of our bell cows,” Shaw coach Jaime Fox said. “We expect him to make plays on offense and defense, and when he does, we get excited. We got back-to-back big plays from him.”
The score sent Troup to halftime leading 10-7, and Shaw players opened the half with a spirited defensive stand inside their own 5-yard line that forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs at the Shaw 7.
“We felt like we were only down three points and we were ready after halftime,” said Upshaw, who rushed for a team-high 69 yards and a touchdown. “We were ready to come back out on defense and hit them in the mouth.”
But one play later, Troup tackled Shaw’s Chris Baker in the end zone for a safety and two possessions later scored on a 5-yard Bray run to make it 19-7.
With less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, a Troup defender knocked the ball out of the hand of Shaw quarterback Chandler Whittlesey, who replaced starter Kyel Darner in the fourth quarter, and Troup’s Deonte Barsh scooped up the fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
“We just have to put this loss behind us,” Upshaw said. “That’s the most important thing we can do. There’s always another game, and we still have a good chance of getting a third or fourth seed in the region and making it to the playoffs.”
Thursday at Kinnett
Troup 3 7 2 14 — 26
Shaw 0 7 0 0 — 7
T — Jordan Vann 42 field goal, 6:57
T — Quan Bray 1 run (Vann kick), 3:58
S — Malcolm Upshaw 39 run (Taylor Braman kick), 3:00
T — Tackle Chris Baker in end zone for safety, 6:09
T — Bray 5 run (Vann kick), 9:24
T — Deonte Barsh 15 fumble return (Vann kick), 1:47
Team records: Troup 5-3, 3-1 Region 6-AAA; Shaw 2-6, 2-2. Next: Troup vs. Haralson County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29; Shaw at Central-Carroll, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 29.