WARNER ROBINS — Making a trek down to top-seeded Warner Robins for the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals on Friday, the Carrollton High School football team had high hopes of being one of the final four teams left standing.
Unfortunately for Trojan Nation, those hopes were shot down.
Falling prey to an offensive explosion masterminded by Warner Robins quarterback Dylan Fromm, the second-seeded Trojans were eliminated from the playoffs in a 63-24 setback.
Head coach Sean Calhoun was disappointed that his ballclub fell short of the its goal of reaching the illustrious 'Game 15' at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but he was nonetheless proud of how far his guys have come this year.
"First and foremost, I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving us this season and giving me the time I've had with these kids," Calhoun said. "There was a lot of adversity and a lot of ups and downs. We learned from it and will keep learning from it. I'm just so proud of our kids."
It was actually the road Trojans who got the scoring festivities started early in the first quarter when running back Jaylan Thomas slashed his way through the middle of the Demon defense for a 66-yard touchdown run. The senior tailback would wind up with 192 yards on 27 carries in his final game as a Trojan.
Following the Thomas touchdown, the Warner Robins offense got to work immediately.
Fromm, the younger brother of University of Georgia starting quarterback Jake Fromm, would cap his first drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Burnett to tie the game at 7-all. After Carrollton retook the lead with a 25-yard Connor Smith-McCrum field goal, the Demon signal-caller would pull his team ahead with an 11-yard keeper for a score to go up 14-10.
The momentum would carry over into the second quarter for the Demons (13-0) as a 47-yard screen pass to Julius Cobbs eventually set up a one-yard Burnett touchdown to extend the lead.
The Trojans would have an answer this time.
In for senior quarterback Mark Wright, who was taken out of the game midway through the first with a nagging shoulder injury, sophomore signal-caller Kashif Taylor hit senior wideout and Purdue verbal commit Jordan Bonner for a four-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal to make the game 21-17.
After forcing a three-and-out near the end of the half, the Trojans gave the ball right back to the Demon offense via fumble. This proved costly as the senior Burnett broke free for his third touchdown of the game to put his team up by 11 entering halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the floodgates started to open for the Warner Robins offense as the junior Fromm took over in the third.
He began the quarter with a 47-yard pump-and-go touchdown to Cobbs, followed it with a four-yard scamper on the following drive, a 17-yard touchdown run on drive No. 3 and capped the period with a 56-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Jaeven West.
Fromm would finish his night with 357 yards passing, 77 yards rushing and six total touchdowns as the Demons took a commanding 56-17 lead into the fourth.
With the game out of reach, Carrollton managed to put one more score on the board when after taking a lateral pass from Taylor, Dalton Benefield managed to throw it back to Taylor for a 39-yard touchdown. One final Demon score would cap the contest and bring the Trojans' season to an end.
"This score is not indicative of our season or how good our kids really are. I just can't say enough about them," Calhoun said. "For these kids to get here with what they've been through and to get to the quarterfinals is an enormous accomplishment. None of our kids should hang their heads and I'll go to war with them any day of the week. I love them dearly."
The Carrollton head man indicated his personal desires to improve as a head coach in the offseason to better ready his team for another deep run through the 2018 postseason. For the next several months, however, his main focus will be on outgoing seniors like the aforementioned Thomas, Wright, Bonner, E.J. Pride and several others who have made tremendous contributions to the program.
"Now that the season's over with, my focus is on getting these kids college scholarships, exposure and doing the best we can to get them to the next level," Calhoun said. "When you talk about a class that's gone 21-5 in two years with back-to-back quarterfinal appearances after a head coaching change, that says a lot about them. I love these guys and I'm proud of them."