The 5th annual West Georgia Kickoff Classic is in the books and the Carrollton Trojans are the champions of this year’s event. Carrollton came out on top of the Newnan Cougars 16-6 in what could definitely be called a defensive battle.
Kadarious Satterwhite, Newnan’s starting quarterback, was sidelined in this game due to an injury he suffered in practice. So, Desmond Blackshear, the junior, stepped in and got the start. His Cougars received the opening kickoff and started their first drive on their own 20 yard line.
Carrollton’s defense looked stifling in this first drive as they forced Newnan to a 3-and-out. Carrollton then took over and used a mix of quarterbacks on the first drive. #7, junior Mark Wright, got the start, but #12, junior Andy Smith, also saw minimal time on this first drive.
Wright hit a wide open #22, senior Dylan Parham, across the middle for the biggest gain of the game thus far. Parham’s 6’3, 240 pound frame allowed him to rumble down into Newnan territory with some hard fought yards after the catch.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, they could not get anything else going and their drive stalled after just one first down. They were then forced to punt for their first time.
Newnan took over and wasted no time in moving into scoring position. An offside penalty allowed the drive to continue and Newnan soon found themselves all the way down on the Carrollton 5 yard line. The inexperience of Blackshear was evident close to the goal line as he fumbled a snap, picked it up, and then fumbled again giving Carrollton the ball.
#2, senior Niesheem Thomas, recovered the Newnan fumble and this gave his team the ball deep in their own territory. The Trojans ripped off three consecutive first downs on this drive. The first one was a run by #20, freshman Mecose Todd. This was followed by a first down reception by #3, senior Thomas Culwell and then a first down run by #4, junior Jaylan Thomas.
After gaining some positive yardage and moving down the field, Carrollton found themselves in a 4th and 2 situation. 1st year coach Sean Calhoun did not want to take any chances as he sent out the punting unit with under a minute left in the first quarter.
Newnan received the punt and started their drive on the 36 yard line, but three consecutive false starts backed them up to their own 21 and they were then facing a 1st and 25. The Cougars couldn’t get anything going after the penalties and punted the ball back to the Trojans to start the second quarter.
Carrollton started with great field position on their own 44 yard line. Mecose Todd then exploded again, this time for 25 yards all the way down to the Newnan 29 yard line. He broke numerous tackles on this impressive run. Then, disaster struck for the Trojans as Mark Wright’s pass was tipped right into the hands of #14, senior Marquan Hill, of Newnan.
Now, with 8:17 left in the first half, the game was still scoreless and both teams had now turned the ball over deep into the other team’s territory. Newnan’s #20, senior AJ Robinson, got the bulk of the carries in the 1st half and it was evident that it was not an easy task to bring him down. Robinson is 5’10, 220 pounds, giving him the Mike Tolbert running style.
He rumbled his way down close to Carrollton territory by breaking numerous tackles. However, Newnan quarterback Desmond Blackshear fumbled again and Carrollton sophomore Jacob Cotton recovered.
This opened the door for the Trojan offense to put some points on the board. They were unable to get a first down, but were able to move close enough for a 47 yard field goal attempt. #23, senior Sam Barge, converted on the field goal and it gave his team a 3-0 lead with 4:07 left in the 1st half.
Barge then kicked the ball into the endzone for a touchback and the Cougars took over on the 20 yard line. They had the ball for a very short period of time as #14, freshman Linebacker Kevin Swint, intercepted a tipped Blackshear pass and broke a couple tackles on his way to a pick six. His interception return (pictured above) gave his Trojans a 10-0 lead after the extra point was converted by Barge.
Newnan then took over again and was able to move the ball down the field. A pass interference call on a long pass allowed the Cougars to move into scoring position. Blackshear still looked shaky though as he could not make the necessary throws to get his team into the endzone. He was able to give his kicker a shot at a 35 yard field goal, though.
The kick went up and definitely had the distance, but it hit the left upright and bounced out and the Trojans kept their 10-0 lead heading into halftime.
The first half was a defensive juggernaut from both sides as Newnan only managed 187 yards of total offense and Carrollton only managed 122. The difference in this first half was the costly turnovers by the Cougars.
Carrollton started the 3rd quarter with the ball but was forced to a 3-and-out by Newnan. After the punt, Newnan started with excellent field position on their own 46 yard line. After a 24 yard pass to #10, senior Zavian Cooley-Smith, and a couple of hard runs by Robinson, the Cougars found themselves deep into Carrollton territory.
The smaller, shiftier running back, junior Mautavier Parks (#4), got the ball down towards the endzone and was able to punch it in from four yards out. The extra point was no good and Carrollton’s lead was now just 10-6.
#1, junior Jordan Bonner, then returned the kickoff all the way to the Newnan 46 yard line. Some early season jitters then took over as a bad snap sailed over the head of Mark Wright and allowed Newnan to take back over.
A trick play then moved the Cougars all the way down to the Trojan 12 yard line as the third quarter expired. Soon after, they were facing a 4th down and decided to bring the field goal unit back out for a second attempt. This time, the snap was fumbled and the kicker did not even get a chance to kick as the holder scurried out to the flats but was tackled short of the first down. This turnover then allowed Carrollton to take back over and milk some clock.
Andy Smith saw some more time on this drive, but nothing substantial happened and Carrollton was forced to punt yet again. The defense then did their job though, as they also forced Newnan to punt.
Carrollton then capitalized on what was the longest play of the game. Jaylan Thomas took a handoff on the first play of the drive and scurried 41 yards down the sideline for a Carrollton touchdown. This gave his team a 16-6 lead with 4:16 to play after the extra point attempt failed.
Newnan was able to drive down the field and an odd play resulted in a touchback. The NHS receiver fumbled the ball out of the side of the endzone, giving the ball back to the Trojans. This play could have easily been a touchdown had the receiver held on a little longer.
This allowed Carrollton to take over and effectively run out the clock, ending the game. If one were to only look at the stats to this game, you may thing that Newnan came out on top. The Cougars outgained the Trojans 341 to 180 in total yards, had 21 more offensive snaps, 10 more first downs, and 5 more minutes of possession.
Unfortunately for the Newnan faithful, they also lost all three of their fumbles and threw a costly interception which was returned for a touchdown. Not only that, but they were 1-of-4 in red zone opportunities. These missed chances, paired with Carrollton’s timely scores proved to be a winning formula for the Trojans.
Both teams looked very shaky regarding penalties as both committed 13 infractions. Even though Carrollton only managed 58 yards of offense in the second half, 41 of which came on one play, they were able to get the win and improve to 1-0.
Mark Wright finished his day 10-of-18 with 63 yards and one interception. Desmond Blackshear finished 8-of-22 with 154 yards, one interception, two fumbles, and 23 yards rushing.
Jaylan Thomas was the leading rusher for Carrollton as he managed 78 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Mautavier Parks ended as the leading rusher for Newnan with 58 yards on 19 carries.
Marquan Hill of Newnan caught 4 passes and led his team in receiving yards with 95. #3, senior Thomas Culwell, led the way in receiving for CHS with 4 catches for 27 yards.
#15, senior Tyrell Harris, led the Cougar defense in tackles with 10 total while #27, junior Jeremiah Pierce, led the Carrollton defense with 13, 3.5 were tackles for loss.
It seems as if Carrollton has good mix of young and experienced talent on both sides of the ball. They will need to fix their offensive mishaps for the later weeks in the season, but their strong defense should carry them to that point.
The Trojans will not play next week, but will face Riverdale High School the next Friday, September 2nd at 7PM at Carrollton High School. Newnan will face Starr’s Mill next Friday the 26th at Newnan High. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
I had a great time covering my first high school football game and look forward to this successful season. Thank you to everyone who made my experience last night a possibility.