The Purple Hurricanes defeated LFO on the road by a score of 76-13 thanks to 69 first-half points to move to 6-0 on the season.
“We played well. It was a good ball game,” head coach Frank Barden said. “Our focus is on getting better each week and, hopefully, we got better this week.
It took all of 28 seconds for the Canes to score their first touchdown as quarterback Brooks Barden ran 49 yards for a touchdown on Cartersville’s second play from scrimmage.
Cartersville got the ball back quickly after forcing a three-and-out. The Canes scored two plays later on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Barden to senior wideout T.L. Ford exactly three minutes into the game.
Ford limped to the line of scrimmage after he got hit over the middle on the previous play. Barden showed no hesitation going back to the seemingly hurt player. Ford rewarded the confidence by going over the middle to make the catch and then racing past several LFO defenders for the score.
“I kind of bruised my thigh, but I wasn’t going out of the game. I had to just play through it,” Ford said.
The second scoring drive was the longest drive Cartersville’s first team had in the contest. It lasted five plays.
The third scoring drive lasted just two plays when Kalin Heath ran 31 yards for the score. Heath saw a few more touches in the backfield with senior Brandon Long sidelined with a knee injury.
The touchdown was set up by a Trevor Carlton interception. Tiamon Pennymon originally tipped the ball to help give the Canes a short field. The interception was one of four for Cartersville in the first half.
“Anytime you can win the turnover battle it’s a positive because that’s what you know you need to do to get better as a team,” Barden said.
Bryce Gober picked off one of his own the very next possession, setting up a Mark Quattlebaum 23-yard touchdown.
The score came on a bubble screen pass from Brooks Barden. It was the second bubble screen of the drive and the two accounted for 41 yards.
Cartersville was unable to force a turnover on the next LFO possession, but sophomore Auston Davis sacked the quarterback on third-and-5 for a 9-yard loss to end LFO’s drive. On the next drive, Davis hit the LFO running back in the backfield, forcing a fumble. Davis then recovered the fumble for the Canes. Davis was playing because starting defensive end Greg Davis was out.
“Auston is going to be a really good player,” Barden said. “He just needs some more game experience and some good fundamental practice and some time in the weight room.”
In between Davis’ drive-ending plays was a 28-yard touchdown run by Pennymon. The next offensive drive, Barden took advantage of his protection and scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown to make the score 41-0. The touchdown was set up by a 40-yard pitch-and-catch from Barden to Ford, who had three receptions for 72 yards in the game. He now has 18 receptions for 379 yards on the season for an average of over 20 yards per catch.
“I feel way more comfortable out here now than I did last year,” Ford said. “I feel my route-running skills and speed have increased.”
As LFO attempted to match Cartersville in the passing game, the Canes intercepted another pass for what would turn out to be the fourth of five turnovers they forced in the half. Gordon Gray capitalized when Barden connected with the senior wideout down the left sideline for a 30-yard score. As a result, the scoreboard read 48-0 with roughly 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Sophomore Terrius Callahan then got involved the next drive when he caught a bubble screen and went 47 yards to give Cartersville a 55-0 lead with over seven minutes remaining in the half.
Another touchdown from Barden to Quattlebaum and a Devin Henderson interception set up one final score in the half when Heath ran the ball in from 65 yards out, untouched on a draw play, to give Cartersville a 69-0 lead at the half.
Cartersville’s substitutes allowed 13 points in the second half, and sophomore quarterback Miller Forristall had a 9-yard touchdown run to wrap up the scoring.
“I felt like we played well as a team,” Ford said of the game. “They’re not the best team we’ll play, so we got reps out of the game. We just try to play how we practice and play hard no matter who we play.”
The 76 points is the most Cartersville has scored since Frank Barden became the head coach. The Canes have now won 16 consecutive regular season games and have yet to be tested in any of the six games this season. They have won their games by an average of over 42 points per game.
However, Barden is not in any rush to experience more competitive games.
“I’m sure those games are coming,” Barden said.
Brooks Barden went 11-for-17 with 257 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 65 yards on three carries with two touchdowns, while only playing the first half.
Heath was the leading rusher for the Canes with 120 yards on three carries and two touchdowns while filling in as the primary back for Long. Quattlebaum finished with 68 yards on four catches with two touchdowns.
Cartersville outgained LFO 497-37 in the first half when the starters were in as every offensive drive resulted in a touchdown. Those 10 first-half scoring drives took a total of just 26 plays.
The Canes head into the bye week before facing Gordon Central on Oct. 18.