By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

TROUP – The Elkhart Elks traveled to Troup to take on the Troup Tigers last Friday, Sept 15and looked to extend their winning streak to start the season. The Elks came into the game with a record of 2-0 while the Tigers entered the contest at 1-1.

It was homecoming for Troup and while the Elks put up a good battle, when the horn sounded to signify the end of the game, it was the Tigers who walked off the gridiron with a 28-7 win.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field using a combination of both an air and ground attack. The 12-play, 67 yard drive was capped off by Troup QB Weslee Ross’ 13-yard run at the 6:46 mark of the first quarter.  The PAT from Iban Rojo was good as the Tigers took an early 7-0 lead.

The Elks were unable to generate any offense on their first possession of the game and were forced to punt. Elkhart’s defense forced a turnover on downs, but the Elks were still unable to put together a sustained drive and punted the ball back to Troup.

With the first quarter winding down, Ross connected with Tristan Clark on a 56-yard scoring strike. Rojo knocked the extra point through the uprights and with 29 seconds left in the opening period, Troup now led 14-0.

The two teams battled it out in the middle of the field for most of the second quarter, as field position became a factor. The Elks eventually penned the Tigers near their own goal and forced a punt from the end zone.

The field position game paid off for the Elks as a poor punt allowed the Elks to set up shop on the Tigers 25 yard line. Elkhart moved inside the Troup red zone as they attempted to cut into the Troup lead.

A shovel pass by Elkhart nearly ended in disaster as Landry Mays pitched the ball to Kyle Thomas at the 12. Thomas was hit almost immediately as the ball was jarred loose and trickled into the end zone.

Fortunately for the Elks, Jayden Kurtz was “Johnny-on-the-spot” and pounced on the ball for a touchdown.  Jacob McSwane’s extra point split the uprights and with 4:42 left in the first half, Elkhart had cut the Troup lead in half and only trailed 14-7.

Neither team could do anything in the waning moments of the first half and the two teams headed to the locker rooms for the extended halftime show.

Once the homecoming festivities concluded, the Elks and Tigers emerged from their respective locker rooms for the second half.

After the two teams exchanged punts to open the third quarter, the Elks put together a drive deep into Tiger territory with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. It was not meant to be however, as a fumble gave Troup the ball on their own 11 yard line.

The turnover seemed to spark the Tigers’ offense as Clark ripped off a 31-yard run, which was followed by a Ross to Dakota Wallace 24-yard pick up. With the ball now inside the Elkhart 30, Ross called his own number.

He kept the ball on a designed run, broke to his right and then found a crease in the middle of the Elk defense and rumbled 27 yards for his second score of the game. The Rojo PAT made the score 21-7 with 2:32 left in the third.

Another costly turnover by the Elks thwarted any chance of a comeback deep in Troup territory and when Ross connected with Clark on a 60-yard scoring strike, the Tigers had effectively salted the game away and hung on to win by a final score of 28-7.

The Elks are off this week and will open district play against the Westwood Panthers on Friday, Sept. 29 in Elkhart. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.