Canes leave impression with 70-0 throttling

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As the rain poured down when the final buzzer sounded Friday night at Weinman Stadium, most of the fans were already long gone.

They saw what they have come to expect from Cartersville, complete domination in a 70-0 victory over an overmatched McNair team, a game to be forgotten for its predictable outcome, one that carried little significance for playoff seeding or any long-term team aspirations.

But even as predictable as the nature of the game was, for one Purple Hurricane, Friday night will be one to be remembered.

Starting junior defensive back Marquail Coaxum unexpectedly lost his grandfather Wednesday night. He dedicated the game to James Maxwell, who he said he was extremely close to.

Coaxum went on to score two touchdowns, one as a receiver and one on a 20-yard pick-6, helping the Canes earn the win with his career game.

So while the rest of his teammates were celebrating, running off the field to escape the rain, Coaxum stood at the 50-yard line and reflected on the night.

"It was a struggle this week because it was on Wednesday when he passed at 10 o'clock at night. And then we had to come in for morning practice on Thursday, so it was pretty tough," Coaxum said. "This game was for him."

"I'm proud for him," Cartersville head coach Joey King said of Coaxum. "That's a big one."

For the rest of the Canes, it was business as usual Friday night. In fact, King and his staff preached that the game against McNair was a "business trip."

And Cartersville indeed took care of business on just another day at the office.

Even winning by 70 points, it wasn't the highest-scoring output in recent memory. Cartersville scored 77 in the state playoffs against Chestatee in 2016.

The Canes outgained McNair 377-8 with the starters in during the first half. They also had 18 first downs to McNair's two, both of which came late in the second quarter.

Junior quarterback Tee Webb went 16-for-25 passing for 339 yards and five touchdowns, continuing to impress in his first year as a starter.

Eight different receivers had at least one reception for 10 yards or more, led by Jackson Lowe's four for 84 yards and a touchdown.

The defense, meanwhile, entered the game one of eight teams in the state to have not allowed a touchdown this season, and through three games so far, the streak still stands. The Canes' D forced one turnover, had two sacks and made seven tackles for loss out of McNair's 29 plays in the first half.

"We talked in the locker room about it being a business trip," King said. "We got our business trip and we wanted to take care of business. And I thought our guys did a really good job of that."

Lowe was the featured receiver on the first drive, catching two passes for a combined 45 yards to start the game, followed by two Marcus Gary runs for a four-play scoring drive less than one minute into the game.

The next drive took just one play, a quick screen to Coaxum, who took it 37 yards to pay dirt for a 14-0 lead 2 1/2 minutes in.

Webb started the game 8-for-8 for 141 yards and two touchdowns, including a 12-yard pass to Trendon Horton on another quick screen for a 21-0 lead six minutes into the first quarter.

The Canes not only scored on their first three drives on just seven total plays, but every single one of those plays was either a first down or a touchdown.

From that point on, Cartersville was in cruise control. Gary capped a six-play, 45-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run after a couple of big gainers by Kaleb Chatmon and Lowe in the passing game.

On the ensuing McNair possession, Coaxum read a receiver screen pass, jumped the route, tipped the ball in the air, caught it for an interception and then dragged a would-be tackler the last 6 yards into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown return. The play of the night made the score 35-0 with one minute left in the first quarter.

"It was a bunch package, and most likely, in a bunch package, it's going to be a pop-and-go or a screen route," Coaxum described of the play. "It was just something I saw [on film] when they do their screens. And how they set it up gives it up."

After McNair finally got a stop, the Canes' defense forced a three-and-out. Cartersville then went 93 yards down the field on offense to score another touchdown and go up 42-0 just 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter. The scoring play was a 40-yard receiver quick screen pass to sophomore Devonte Ross.

It was the third offensive touchdown on a quick receiver pass in the game, and Coaxum's pick-6 came on a receiver quick screen by McNair, creating the theme of the night.

"It was [something we wanted to do]," King said of using the quick screens on offense. "We wanted to do it early too. They had a couple of guys who play both ways, so it was to make those guys run side to side. We knew they were probably going to pressure us some, and sometimes that quick screen game can take away some of the pressure from the pressure."

The final scores of the first half were an 11-yard strike from Webb to Lowe and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mark Dudley after the Canes practiced the two-minute drill. They were so successful, it only took one minute of game clock to score the last touchdown of the half.

That made the halftime score 56-0.

In the running-clock second half, McNair's punter couldn't handle the long snaps on the Mustangs' first two three-and-out drives. The punter dove on the ball inside the 5-yard line of McNair territory each time. That set up Evan Slocum and Quante Jennings short touchdown runs, giving the game a final of 70-0.

For the Canes, it would be the 41st consecutive regular season win, adding to a program record. Plus, the 70-0 score is going to look good in the high school roundups across the state and adds another notch to Cartersville's belt, even against a hapless opponent.

While there wasn't much drama to the game, King said his team would get better from it.

"There's a couple of different wrinkles that we did and a couple of things we wanted to improve on," King said of what his team could take from the lopsided matchup. "Getting a lot of guys a lot of reps, that's going to pay off for us down the road.

"It is [hard to maintain focus in a game like that]. Still, there were a couple of misfired balls and some routes that were't as crisp as we wanted them to be, but overall, I was pleased with how we played."

Cartersville will look to move to 4-0 next week with another home game against Class 7A Cherokee.