Friday night, the Tigers ran into a defensive brick wall, figuratively, and did not score all night while their defense allowed Cartersville to claim a 36-0 victory as the Purple Hurricanes scored on five drives, one in each of the first three quarters and two in the final period that also saw a safety.
Brandon Long, who had 14 carries for 123 yards, scored three touchdowns and almost ran for another as he covered almost 80 yards on a play that was nullified by a penalty. Brooks Barden tossed two touchdown passes, one a 19-yarder and the second an 8-yard strike.
Head coach Frank Barden noted the Canes picked up a road victory.
“All in all, this wasn’t bad for a first game,” he said. “On the road it’s always good to get a win.”
He also liked how the team got the victory.
“We came out in the second half and played really well,” Barden said. “Our defense played a full game, and offensively we got down there a few times and we didn’t get it in. But it is a team that is, hopefully, going to grow each week and mature into a good football team.”
Cartersville scored its first touchdown on its second drive, which started with a turnover, a fumble that was claimed by the Canes at their own 36.
Brooks Barden, who was 13-of-24 for 174 yards and two touchdowns, started the drive with a 14-yard pass to T.L. Ford. Kalin Heath added 14 more yards and Ford picked up 10 yards and then cruised into the end zone for a yard out. The PAT was missed but Cartersville took an early lead with 5:13 remaining in the period at 6-0.
Cartersville played ball control the rest of the period and deep into the second frame until Long pounded the team’s second touchdown for the night from six yards out.
Zack Edwards made the PAT and Cartersville took a 13-0 lead with 2:42 showing before halftime.
Cartersville opened the second half with a 10-play drive that Barden capped with an 8-yard strike to Terrius Callahan. The Canes then held a 20-0 lead at the 9:13 mark after Edwards made his second PAT.
Darlington opened the final period facing a fourth down and 22 when the ball went over the Tiger punter’s head and he pushed the ball through the back of the end zone to hold Cartersville to a safety, giving the visitors a 22-0 lead.
The Canes wore down Darlington in the final period and took control with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gordon Gray at the 10:28 mark. Cartersville scored its final touchdown of the evening less than a minute later after a Darlington runner fumbled.
The Canes took over at their own 37 and two plays later Long ran it in from 21 yards out. The PAT by Edwards capped the scoring at 36-0.
The obvious key to the victory was the Canes holding the high-powered Darlington offense to no points.
Barden called that win a “team victory” and spread the credit around.
“Our defensive coaches do a great job of preparing our team and getting a good game plan,” he said. “Our kids really work hard on Monday through Thursday.
“I think they were really prepared and they came out and they play hard.”
He said the team listened to its coaches.
“I told them before the game and at halftime we want to play fast and we want to play smart,” he said.
The coach said the team must continue to do that.
“If we can do that week in and week out, then we have a chance to grow and become a good football team as the year goes on,” he said.
Cartersville next plays Sept. 6 when it hosts Cass High in a rivalry game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.