LAGRANGE – Last Thursday evening the Upson Lee Knights got their first chance to test their skills against someone other than themselves. Upson Lee traveled to LaGrange, where they faced the Troup County Tigers at Callaway Stadium in a scrimmage game.
This was the second scrimmage game for the Tigers, who were able to play two scrimmage games since they did not have a spring game or practices. The Tigers battled Spencer in a scrimmage a week earlier, but Upson Lee was allotted only the one scrimmage game, and unfortunately it was cut short due to lightning late in the first half.
“Every time the lightning would strike, a 30-minute wait was added,” said UL Head Coach Tommy Parks. “It was determined that the earliest start time was going to be around 9:30 p.m., and since both teams had school the next day, they decided that we should just call the game. Had it been a Friday or Saturday night game, we probably would have waited it out.”
As for the nearly two quarters of action that were played, Upson Lee showed some signs of a tough run defense, and a powerful running game on offense, but it was Troup County that would score first.
After the Knights received the ball to start to the game, Upson Lee went three plays and out. The Knights had a chance for a first down, but wide receiver Donavan King was unable to hold on to a pass, and a Troup defender broke up the play. A completion on that catch would have made for a highlight reel type play and kept the Knights drive alive.
Upson Lee was forced to punt, and All-Region punter Kalen Puckett took the snap. However, it was a punt which the junior would love to have back. The punt shanked off the side of his foot, giving the ball to Troup County at the UL 30-yard line, as Puckett’s punt only traveled 10 yards.
The Knights defense stifled the Tigers running game, forcing a fourth and long from just inside the Knights’ 30-yard line. The Tigers decided to go for the first down conversion on fourth down, as they were out of field goal range, but too close to punt. The Tigers completed a 25-yard pass on a one-handed diving catch at the one yard line. One play later, Troup punched the ball. The PAT was good and UL trailed by a 7-0 score.
On the Knights’ next possession, they began to move the ball down the field, leaning on the running of Quay Reviere and Markevious Robinson. Junior Robinson scampered into the end zone from 12 yards out, capping off a 12-play drive. Rich Stewart connected on the PAT, and the game was tied 7-7.
Upson Lee’s defense was again able to force the Tigers into a tough fourth down situation. This time Troup decided to punt. The Knights again drove down the field late in the first quarter. With the ball sitting inside the Tigers’ 20-yard line, there was a miscommunication between QB Kalen Puckett and wide receiver O’qualon Harris. It looked as if Puckett thought Harris was going to run an out-route, but Harris ran a slant. That led to the Troup corner back finding himself with the ball after Puckett’s pass hit him right in the numbers.
Troup took over on offense once again at the end 0f the first quarter and into the beginning of the second quarter. The Knights’ defensive front blasted their way past the Tigers’ offensive linemen, getting pressure on the Troup QB and running backs in the backfield.
Upson Lee would regain possession after another Troup County punt. The Knights received some nice runs up the middle from Reviere, and completed a long pass to Harris on the drive. UL scored their second touchdown of the game when Kalen Puckett found Wyquavious Battle on a three-yard TD pass. Stewart again added the PAT.
Late in the second quarter as the weather began to darken the sky, the Tigers would tie the game up with just over a minute left before halftime. Troup ran the ball towards the sideline, but it looked as if the Knights over ran the play, as the Tiger running back made a cut and broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run. After the PAT, the game was tied 14-14.
That’s when lightning flashed over the field and all players and fans were ordered out of the stadium. The players would never come back on the field and the game would be called just before halftime.
Upson Lee finished with over 200 yards of offense in just under two quarters of play. Defensively, with a 50-yard run and a 25-yard pass included, UL only surrendered 115 yards of total offense to the Tigers.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Parks. “We were able to get some questions answered. We were playing Troup County, but at the same time we were playing against ourselves. We had some questions about some personnel, and tonight we saw how players reacted under the lights against someone other than themselves. We saw some guys compete out there. We had six guys on offense that had never seen extended action in a varsity game, and we had five guys on defense in the same predicament. We were able to look at some of those guys and we will use this game as a teaching tool to help us get better. We have already begun working on Pike County, and we have until September 4 to have our minds and bodies prepared for the Pirates. We are excited about the season beginning just around the corner.”
The Pike County Pirates will be in action this Friday, when they welcome the Lamar County Trojans to Zebulon. Upson Lee has a bye in week one, but on Sept. 4 they will open their season at Matthews Field when they host the rival Pirates. Kickoff for that game is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Wes McCard can be contacted at (706) 647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.