Five touchdowns from four different receivers and a field goal gave the Canes a hefty lead heading into halftime, and a second field goal from Zach Edwards in the fourth quarter would close out scoring for the home team. The Canes are now 5-0, 2-0 in Region 5-AAA. The loss dropped Coahulla Creek to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in region play.
“It was just up and down at times. At times we played good on offense, at times we played good on defense, at times we played good in the kicking game, but it wasn’t consistent,” Canes head coach Frank Barden said. “We didn’t start the game off well. You know they had a good long drive and kept the ball a lot of the first quarter, and then, to start the second half, we went three-and-out on offense, so that’s the bad things. And so you’ve got to get better.”
The Colts ate up the first seven minutes of the game in a 70-yard drive, eating up 36 yards in a run by Cameron Burton. Coahulla Creek capped the drive with a field goal from Irwin Rivera.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Colts tried for and recovered an onside kick but failed to the keep the momentum, turning the ball over on the first play from center at the Cartersville 48-yard line.
Three plays later, the Canes were on the board courtesy of a 21-yard connection from quarterback Brooks Barden to receiver T.L. Ford in the left corner of the end zone with less than five minutes left in the first quarter. Edwards’ point-after touchdown gave Cartersville the 7-3 lead.
After taking a high snap, Colts quarterback Blaine Williams bobbled the ball, turning it over again to the Canes at the Coahulla Creek 30.
With one snap and a spiraling pass from Barden to Gordon Gray in the end zone, the Canes again tacked on points, going up 14-3 at 3:15 in the first.
During their next drive, the Colts would fail to capitalize on a 15-yard pass interference penalty against the Canes, turning the ball over on downs. And penalties were a problem — both Cartersville and Coahulla Creek racked up seven penalties Friday night.
Cartersville would score two more touchdowns on its following two possessions — first on a 26-yard carry from Tiamon Pennymon at the 11:38 mark in the second quarter and again on Trase Fezzia’s run from 24 yards out with 8:45 left in the half.
Taking over after the Colts turned it over on downs, the Canes put together their longest drive of the night, moving 62 yards to the Colts’ 9. On a one-handed, diving catch, Mark Quattlebaum found the end zone — only to find the TD called back on a penalty for an illegal man downfield. The Canes would settle for the field goal with 4:37 remaining.
Three minutes later, Cartersville closed out scoring for the half on a 17-yard touchdown catch by Fezzia.
A running clock in the second half moved the game quickly, with Cartersville adding the field goal from Edwards at the start of the fourth quarter to close out scoring.
Frank Barden said the speed of the second half hindered the team’s ability to gain experience and depth. Not until the fourth quarter did Cartersville relieve the starters.
“We would like to have gotten more [experience],” he said. “But, you know, it’s tough when you have, sometimes in the second half when you have a running clock it goes by pretty fast, and you don’t get as many reps as you would like.”
Barden also commended coach Jared Hamlin’s Colts.
“... They had a great game plan. They did a good job the first quarter; I mean, they had a great plan, did a good job. Their coaches, you know, should be commended on the way they came out and played,” he said. “I think that, like I said, I think it was an inconsistent game for us. That’s not what we want to be. We want to be a little more consistent and efficient in everything we do. Up and down, I think there were a lot of guys who played really good at times, and then I think there’s times we played just average.”
Brooks Barden was 13 of 24 for 222 yards in the air. He also had 34 yards rushing on three carries.
Running back Kalin Heath accounted for 66 yards on seven carries. Ford, in addition to his touchdown, had 55 yards on two receptions.
Hamlin said his team played all four quarters against a tough region foe. “I was proud of our kids; this is a heck of a football team we just played. ... I was proud our kids came out, that they came out strong and continued to play hard for four quarters.
“That’s what we ask of them is to give everything that they had for four quarters, and that’s what they did,” he said. “Our kids just played, you know, we got in there and our kids made some plays and we were able to move the chains. It was a heck of [an opening] drive.
“... You know, I think we shot ourself in the foot down here and ended up kicking in. We kicked, what was it, 34-, 38-yard field goal? So I was proud of that drive. You know, we had, I guess, defensively they scored on us real quick on the way back. Well, no, we got the onside there and then we turned it right back over. That kind of changed the momentum we made that had that turnover there. ... We had some other decent drives, you know, but like I said, Cartersville’s just a great football team.”
Williams was 6 of 17 for 55 yards through the air. Burton had 48 yards on the ground, and Marquis Monroe added 15 yards on two catches.
Both teams will be back in action next week.
Coahulla Creek hosts Gordon Central at home on Oct. 4.
Cartersville begins a monthlong stretch away from Weinman Stadium. The Canes travel to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on Oct. 4 and do not return to Cartersville until Nov. 1.