Facing off against an opponent who went to the semifinals in Class 7A last season, it was business as usual Friday for the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes in a 38-5 stomping at Westlake.'
Trevor Lawrence throwing for nearly 200 yards — in the first half?
Rico Frye running wild?
Another 30-point win?
Yawn, but put a check in that box too for the Canes, who polished off an undefeated non-region slate and ran their record to 4-0 with the victory.
“I thought we executed pretty good,” Cartersville coach Joey King said. “There were a couple of times when it looked a little sloppy, but sometimes that happens against good teams. Their kids are strong, they’re athletic, they’re fast, so we’ve got to figure out whatwas us and what was them.”
The Westlake Lions had made the state playoffs four times in four years and were coming off a semifinal loss to Roswell in Class 7A, the largest classification in Georgia, but Cartersville swept through them to earn a 34th consecutive win, moving into a tie for the 12th-longest streak in GHSA history.
Lawrence threw for 195 yards and a touchdown in the first half and then one-upped that performance by completing 7-of-7 passes in the second half before being pulled, along with the rest of the starters, after three quarters.
He finished 17-of-24 for 281 yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful 26-yard rainbow to E.J. Turner in the left side of the end zone to push Cartersville’s lead to 31-3 with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
His other touchdown throw, in the first half, was a simple toss in the flat to Frye, who walked in from nine yards out to make it 17-0 in the second quarter.
The score was only the latest indication that Frye seems to have a magnetic attraction to the end zone.
He also had the other two first-half touchdowns for Cartersville, running for 1- and 3-yard scores on either side of his receiving touchdown.
Frye went over 100 yards rushing again, finishing with 111 on just 15 carries, and added three receptions for 37 yards. He has 12 total touchdowns in four games so far this season.
The bowling-ball back seemingly never went down on first contact and provided a full reel of highlights, most notably in the second quarter when he bulled through a few tacklers right past the line of scrimmage and then, emerging from the pile, broke a defensive back’s ankles on his way to a 28-yard gain.
“He runs hard,” King said. “He does a good job of taking care of the ball and keeping his legs churning. Rico’s just really, really strong too, so people just bounce off of him.”
The Cartersville defense was also strong, holding Westlake to 85 yards in the first half. Cartersville had 325 in the same span.
The Canes took a lead just 2:01 into the game when Frye scored from three yards out to cap a five-play, 74-yard drive, highlighted by a 42-yard reception by Turner down the left sideline on an inch-perfect pass by Lawrence.
The Lions then held Cartersville to just three on the Canes’ next two possessions, thanks to Jonathan Cruz missing a 45-yard field goal.
He would come right back with a 44-yarder for a 10-0 lead on the next drive before Cartersville went back to scoring touchdowns, starting with Frye’s 9-yard catch.
Westlake snuck a 45-yard field goal over the bar to make it 17-3, but Frye’s second rushing and third total touchdown in the first half gave Cartersville a 24-3 lead at the break.
The Canes then killed any hope of a comeback by driving 85 yards in nine plays on their first drive of the second half, finishing it off with Lawrence’s dime to Turner in the left corner of the end zone.
Even the bounce of the ball was favoring Cartersville, as it scored its last touchdown when Lawrence fumbled around the 5-yard line on a scramble, and Turner fell on the ball in the end zone to make it 38-3.
That score, coming with two minutes left in the third quarter, officially closed the book, as the backups came in and a running clock came out in the fourth.
Westlake added a late safety. Isaiah Chaney recovered a fumble for the Canes on their own 3-yard line, but the Westlake defense then stuffed Harrison Allen on consecutive plays to get the safety and some points out of the situation.
Lawrence and Frye were again the stars for the Canes, but all three senior receivers pitched in, as JKobe Orr had four catches for 98 yards, Turner had two for 68, and T.J. Horton led the team in receptions with five for 46 yards.
The win brought to a close a non-region schedule that also included comfortable wins over traditional power Allatoona and fierce rival Calhoun, and a nailbiting victory in a classic game against an elite Florida team in Bartram Trail on ESPN.
With a 4-0 record in their pocket, the Canes will have a week off before opening up region play against Cedartown on Sept. 22.