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Kevin Eckleberry | Times-News winner: A late-game interception secured the victory for Troup County on Thursday night against Harris County at Callaway Stadium.

Tigers beat Harris County in thriller

By Kevin eckleberry

Times-News

It was a fight to the finish.

The Troup and Harris County football teams, locking horns in a border brawl, played a thriller on Thursday night at Callaway Stadium.

Harris County had the ball at the end with an opportunity to win it with a touchdown and an extra point, but it was Troup making the plays necessary to preserve a thrilling 27-21 victory.

On a fourth-and-long play with less than a minute remaining, Troup’s Jabralin Gooden came through with the game-clinching interception.

The Tigers (3-0) ran a couple of kneel-down plays before celebrating a hard-earned victory.

There was no suspense in Troup’s first two wins this season.

After opening with a 59-24 win over Ridgeland, Troup thumped Columbus 68-13.

It was a different story on Thursday, with Harris County hanging in there until the end, only to come up just short thanks to Troup’s late defensive stand.

Trey Williams, Troup’s outstanding senior running back, had touchdown runs of 21 and one yards, and Kobe Hudson threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Luke Purnell.

Troup also got a defensive touchdown, with Devon Hill scooping up a fumble and returning it nearly 60 yards for the score.

Williams’ 21-yard touchdown run with 6:59 left in the game gave Troup a 27-21 lead.

After the teams traded punts, Harris County got the ball for the final time at its own 21-yard line with 2:36 to play.

With quarterback Cooper Corey leading the way, Harris County marched down the field, and it found itself on the 32-yard line when Ja’Rell Smith caught a 12-yard completion.

On a third-down play, Corey was sacked by Andy Boykin, setting up a fourth-and-21 situation.

Corey threw the ball downfield, and Gooden stepped in front of the receiver to make the interception.

“I was just in the right place at the right time, and I made the big play,” Gooden said.

Harris County struck first in the game, with Corey connecting with Tailique Williams for a 57-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.

Troup came right back, going 62 yards in 10 plays for the tying touchdown.

On third-and-goal, Hudson’s pass was deflected in the end zone, but it fell into the arms of Purnell for the touchdown, and the Isaac Andrews extra point tied it at 7-7 with 1:39 left in the opening quarter.

Moments later Troup’s defense got into the act, with Hill’s fumble return and the Andrews extra point giving the home team a 14-7 lead with 38 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Harris County, after a long kickoff return by Williams, got a 17-yard touchdown run by Corey with 11:54 left in the second quarter to tie it at 14-14, and that was the score at the half.

The Tigers’ first possession of the second half began at their own 6-yard line, and they promptly went 94 yards in 15 plays, all on the ground, for the go-ahead touchdown.

The drive, which chewed up nearly six minutes of clock time, ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Harris County answered.

On a fourth-down play, Corey hit Gabe Goolsby for the 30-yard touchdown, and the extra point tied it at 21-21 with 9:31 to play.

Back came the Tigers, who went 61 yards in seven plays for the touchdown that gave them the lead, this time for good.

Williams capped the drive with a 21-yard scoring run, and after the extra-point attempt was blocked, Troup’s lead was 27-21. The Tigers made two defensive stands after that to end the suspense, keeping them unbeaten heading into next week’s showdown with Callaway.