Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they faced one of the best teams in the state Friday night at Weinman Stadium as the Purple Hurricanes rolled 55-15 to move to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in Region 5-AAA.
“They are a great football team,” Gann said of Cartersville.” They’re as good as we’ll ever see. We had some mistakes, but they lined up and whipped us as well.”
The Canes scored on their very first drive of the game when Brandon Long ran the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line. The touchdown was set up by a leaping catch from Gordon Gray over the middle of the field that went for 19 yards on a third-and-9.
Cartersville scored two and a half minutes later when Brooks Barden took the ball up the middle of the defense on a quarterback draw to score from three yards out. The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard pass play from Barden to T.L. Ford.
“Offensively, we are getting better,” Cartersville head coach Frank Barden said. “I think we are starting to get into a little bit of a flow in what we want to do.”
North Murray made things interesting in the second quarter when the Mountaineers went on a 21-play drive in the second quarter that used up over nine minutes of the game clock.
Four out of the five first downs they got on the drive were on Cartersville penalties. The Mountaineers scored on a fourth down from the 7-yard line to make the score 13-7 and give them some momentum.
Cartersville would respond, however, with a touchdown just before halftime on another quarterback sneak from Barden, this time from four yards out to take a 20-7 advantage.
That looked likely to be the halftime score, but a North Murray fumble in its end zone was picked up by Greg Davis for the Cartersville touchdown and a 27-7 lead at halftime.
The play was set up by an excellent kick from Zach Edwards to give North Murray poor field position.
“I thought our kicking game was great tonight,” Barden said. “Zach did a great job of kicking off for us and getting it into the end zone. That’s a great play for us.”
Cartersville started the second half like it started the first, with a touchdown on its opening drive. Barden hooked up with Trase Fezzia on a post route that went 37 yards for a touchdown.
Exactly 25 seconds later, after a fumble recovery from Mark Quattlebaum, Barden connected with Ford for a 5-yard score. Ford had 80 yards receiving on the day.
“I feel very comfortable in the pocket. You just drop back, take your time, and you don’t have to make a perfect throw because you can put it anywhere in the receivers’ vicinity and they’ll go up and make a play,” Brooks Barden said.
Barden completed 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 181 yards and four touchdowns before getting pulled when the game got out of hand.
The Canes would go on to score two more touchdowns in the quarter on a pass to Gray. The ball went off Quattlebaum’s hands and tipped back to Gray in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
Quattlebaum would get his own touchdown on a bubble screen play that went 53 yards to make the score 55-7 in favor of the Canes.
The senior receiver had four tackles, a fumble recovery and 130 yards receiving.
After Cartersville’s starters were pulled, North Murray scored a touchdown and two-point conversion near the end of the game to make the final score 55-15.
Despite the late touchdown, there was no doubt the Canes were the better team Friday.
“I thought, defensively, we played hard. We really ran to the ball,” Frank Barden said. “We are just stressing getting better each week. We have to get better each game and each half so we did some good things in the second half that comes over into the season.”
Cartersville will celebrate its homecoming game next Friday at Weinman Stadium when the Canes play Coahulla Creek.
Up to this point, Cartersville has looked dominant, allowing a total of 22 points in four games and scoring 174 themselves.
“I’m very happy with where we are right now,” Brooks Barden said. “We’ve been improving every week. We are a lot better team than we were at this point last year.”