The teams were closely matched in the first half, with Cartersville taking a slim 17-16 lead into the break. The Canes scored the game’s first 10 points, surrendered 13 to trail briefly, then added a touchdown for a 17-13 lead that became 17-16 after LFO nailed a field goal with under a minute remaining in the second half.
The second half was a different — and one-sided — story as the Purple Hurricanes poured it on offensively, unleashing a vicious running attack that grew stouter as the game wore on and was complimented by an equally deadly passing assault. The Warriors threatened to score but couldn’t close the deal against the quicker Canes.
Before the contest, Coach Frank Barden had said it would take a complete effort by his team to whip the physically larger Warriors and that’s what he got from the Canes all game long.
“They had some of their athletes playing both ways and that’s tough,” Barden said. “That’s where we want to make sure we play four full quarters. Our kids played hard. It was a great first half, 17-16, two good football teams.”
He said the Canes had to play a full game to have a chance.
“They’ve got some guys who can really play over there,” Barden said. “That’s what we’ve got to get ready for is four-quarter games. The second half we were able to outlast them.”
Cartersville’s kicking game helped mightily.
“We had field position because of it,” Barden said. “We got a blocked punt. Preston Slemp’s kick offs into the end zone for us. You can’t say enough about the kicking game because that swung the field position the whole night for us.”
Cartersville scored first on the evening, taking advantage of a short field they received when LFO could make only two first downs its first possession and had to give up some of those yards when Greg Davis tackled their quarterback twice for a loss.
A Warrior punt landed in the arms of Hayes Linn at the Canes’ 43, but Linn found some daylight and advanced to the LFO 26, where a face mask penalty set the Canes up in business at the 21. Three plays later Cartersville’s Brooks Barden connected with Linn for a 14-yard strike that put the Canes up 7-0 after the PAT was made by Preston Slemp.
LFO went three and out and punted to the Cartersville 41. The Canes took seven plays to move to the 23, their key ones a shuttle pass to Mark Quattlebaum that ate up 5 yards, a pass to Linn that moved the chains 25 yards and a handoff to Kalin Heath that netted 15 yards. Slemp made good on a 40-yard field goal attempt to put Cartersville up 10-0.
The Warriors responded with a 10-play drive that Trey Silmon capped with a 9-yard run to pull within 10-6. Kyle Trego made the PAT to close within 10-7.
Cartersville went three-and-out the next series — their efforts hurt by a penalty and a fumble — and LFO responded with a five-play drive that covered 56 yards and was punctuated by a 5-yard scoring run by Jacob Gilbert. The PAT was wide but LFO still had scored enough to take its first and only lead of the night, 13-10.
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