Trojans fall to Tigers in state quarterfinals

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STOCKBRIDGE — For the third year in a row, the Carrollton High School football team’s Class AAAAA state championship aspirations were spoiled with a loss in the third round. The third-seeded Trojans (10-3) closed their season in disappointing fashion on Friday night with a 48-3 loss on the road to Stockbridge High School in the state playoff quarterfinals.

“First and foremost, all praise and glory goes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for what a special season that he’s given us,” Carrollton head coach Sean Calhoun said. “I know tonight didn’t go our way, but it doesn’t change all the blessings that he’s given to this team, that he’s given to me with these seniors and all the special memories that this team will have forever.”

With the loss, the Trojans bid farewell to a class of 23 seniors. The group finished their high school careers with a record of 37-14 and four straight playoff appearances.

“I’m so proud of our seniors,” Calhoun said. “They were a good bunch. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to them, but that’s kind of the cycle. It’s kind of the cycle of high school football.”

The second-seeded Tigers (12-1) showcased their dominance on both sides of the ball from start to finish, outgaining Carrollton 350-160 in yards of total offense despite running only 35 plays to the Trojans’ 64.

Opening the third quarter with a 27-3 lead, Stockbridge forced a turnover on downs on Carrollton’s first possession of the second half to take over on its own 47-yard line. On the next play, senior Yashyn McKee broke free for a 53-yard rushing touchdown with 9:41 to go.

The Tigers’ defense forced a three-and-out and the offense quickly went back to work, putting together a 58-yard drive that ended with senior Isaiah Taylor sprinting 36 yards to the end zone to give Stockbridge a 41-3 lead with 4:25 to go in the third quarter.

Stockbridge’s final score of the night came on a blocked field goal that resulted in an 80-yard return for a touchdown by senior Kerick Reese with 5:16 left in the game.

“They’re just good. They’re really good at what they do, and you have to be on your A-game,” Calhoun said of Stockbridge. “But one thing about our kids is they fought, and they fought until the very end. That’s what Trojans do. I’m proud of them, and I love every single one of them.”

The night opened with both defenses flexing their muscles as Carrollton and Stockbridge traded punts and the teams combined for four punts and a pair of fumbles on the first six drives of the night.

After taking over on its own 35-yard line following Carrollton’s third punt of the opening quarter, Stockbridge needed just one play to find the end zone as junior Jevon McDonald found Taylor streaking down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers took a 7-0 lead with 4:35 to go.

Two plays into Carrollton’s ensuing possession, Stockbridge senior Clayton Wilson intercepted a pass from freshman Myles Morris and returned it to the Carrollton 9-yard line. McDonald ran the ball up the middle on the next play to put the Tigers up 14-0 at the 3:42 mark in the first quarter.

Stockbridge’s next possession ended with McDonald connecting with Taylor once again — this time for a 26-yard score — to give the Tigers a 20-0 advantage.

The Tiger defense held Carrollton without a first down until the final play of the first quarter, when junior Kodee Brewer moved the chains with 10-yard run. The drive would leak into the second quarter and ultimately be capped by a 37-yard field goal from senior Connor Smith-McCrum to trim the Trojans’ deficit to 20-3 with 8:12 remaining in the first half.

The Tigers’ final strike of the second quarter came on McDonald 23-yard rushing touchdown with three ticks of the clock remaining.

Stockbridge will host No. 2 seed Bainbridge in the fourth round next week. The Bearcats knocked off top-seeded Buford, 23-20, in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

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