With their starting quarterback out for the second straight week – and their best defensive lineman and top receiver already sidelined – the Carrollton football team dug deep and found a way to win a game it could not afford to lose.
The Trojans gave sophomore Kashif Taylor his first start at quarterback and he responded. They rode the running of tailback Jaylen Thomas. They got three interceptions and blocked a punt. And as the clock expired they got a 25-yard touchdown from Connor Smith-McCrum to win the game.
The 45-42 win over No. 6 Kell (4-4) was the ideal tonic for Carrollton (6-2). The Trojans now hold their own destiny and can finish second in Region 7 if they finish the season with wins over Paulding County and Cass.
“We didn’t play Carrollton football last week (a 41-14 loss to Hiram) and we talked this week about playing our brand of football,” coach Sean Calhoun said. “Our kids just fought. Our kids aren’t quitters. I’m so proud of them.”
There were plenty of heroes. Sophomore Kashif Taylor filled in for senior Mark Wright (collarbone), ran for one touchdown and for two touchdowns, hitting Dalton Benefield and Isaiah Lancaster.
“He stepped right in, he was poised and he was prepared,” Calhoun said. “He took care of the moment.”
It helped that Thomas was there to carry the load on the ground. He rushed for 253 yards and scored two touchdowns, one a 75-yard run.
The Carrollton defense was instrumental in the comeback, too. They blocked a punt to set up one score and came away with three interceptions – all of them from Kenneth Towns.
Kell was able to throw the ball effectively against Carrollton. Quarterback Evan Conley threw for 286 yards, but had three interceptions. Michael Luckie caught 10 passes for 160 yards.
How the rest of the top 10 fared:
Buford gets third straight shutout: The No. 2 Wolves (6-1) beat Walnut Grove 49-0, giving them three straight shutouts. Buford beat those three opponents by a combined 175-0. Anthony Grant rushed 14 times for 157 and three touchdowns, of 45, 18 and 3 yards and Derrian Brown had 13 rushes for 121 yards and a 4-yard touchdown. A.J. Hendricks had a 22-yard interception return for a score, and defensive end Jalen Anderson recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Another shutout for Stockbridge: The No. 3 Tigers (8-0) posted their second straight shutout and fourth of the season, a 35-0 win over Hampton. Quarterback Gabriel McKenzie was 6-of-6 passing for 108 yards with six carries for 44 yards. In the first quarter, Tigers wide receiver Marquez Ezzard had 73 yards on four catches with three touchdowns. McKenzie connected with Jalen Taylor on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Keeping up with Jones: No. 5 Jones County improved to 8-0 and set up a showdown with Stockbridge for the Region 4 championship. The Greyhounds rolled to a 37-7 win over Ola and have scored at least 34 points in each game this season.
Bainbridge puts up 63 points: The No. 7 Bearcats whipped Thomas County Central 63-14 on Friday. It was the most points ever scored in 35 meetings between the two regional rivals. Bainbridge has won three of the last four meetings.
Overholt leads Wayne County win: Quarterback Garrett Overholt threw three touchdown passes to lead No. 9 Wayne County to a 52-16 win over New Hampstead. Overholt threw for a 3-yard score to Thomas Smith, a 24-yard score to Ashby Cribb and a 7-yard score to Cooper Martin. The Yellow Jackets (6-1) also got two touchdown runs from Treg Patterson, a 75-yard run from M.J. Fuller, a touchdown pass from Cooper to Cribb, and a field goal from Austin Crews. Wayne County had a 31-0 lead after the first quarter.
Four straight wins for Griffin: The No. 10 Bears used the running of Mo King and Darryl Matthews to defeated McIntosh 41-28. King had a career-best 219 yards and scored three touchdowns. Matthews also ran for two touchdowns for Griffin.
No. 1 Rome rolls: The Wolves won their 20th straight game, beating Villa Rica 45-7. Quarterback Knox Kaum threw for 202 yards and one touchdown, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass. Jamious Griffin rushed for 88 yards.
Not in action this week: No. 4 Warner Robins, No. 7 Starr’s Mill.