The Central, Carroll Lions gave Cartersville its toughest fight of the season so far, but in the end big defensive plays and some downright explosive plays from Amarai Orr and Devonte Ross gave the Canes (6-0, 2-0) the hard fought 16-14 road victory.
“A win is always to be celebrated, and a lot of hard work went into that,” said Cartersville head coach Conor Foster. “For tonight, we’re going to enjoy it.”
Quarterback Tee Webb finished the outing with an estimated 182 yards and one touchdown pass on nine completions, with two-way standout Devonte Ross racking up about 100 yards on five catches, including a dazzling 66-yard score to close out the third quarter.
And if that wasn’t enough, Ross also recorded an interception on Central’s opening possession.
Amarai Orr also had a fantastic evening on both sides of the ball, recording two interceptions on defense and notching up nearly 40 yards as a receiver.
“I’m just proud of those guys,” Foster said. “Through the game, there’s just an ebb and flow, and there were some great plays. ... Everything didn’t go their way, but in the end they stayed with it and they stayed focused and found ways to make plays in the big moments.”
Cartersville went three-and-out on the team’s opening possession, but off Ross’ interception on Central’s next drive, managed to march down inside the Lions’ red zone for Oscar Hernandez to boot a 28-yard field goal to get the Canes on the scoreboard first.
The two teams then traded three-and-outs, with the Canes’ D forcing the Lions to punt at the Cartersville 47.
Cartersville running back Jake Brasfield ended up fumbling the ball away twice in the second quarter, but the Lions couldn’t get any points off the turnovers. The first half ended with Orr snagging his first interception of the contest; Webb’s deep shot to the end zone, however, fell short as time expired.
Central had the ball first to begin the third, and the Lions spent nearly the entire quarter driving downfield. The Lions made good on a 3-yard rushing touchdown with about 1:25 left in the quarter, but Central’s only lead of the game was very short-lived. The Canes closed out the quarter with a downright spectacular 66-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Ross to make the score 10-7 with all zeroes on the clock.
The Lions’ potent offense, Foster said, certainly offered the defense plenty of challenges and got going in the second half.
“They came out in empty sets and the quarterback’s really athletic. So, again, it was just being able to adjust to the game,” he said. “They presented a difficult challenge for us tonight, and I was proud to hold them to what we did.”
Jalen Thomas, who wrapped up the contest with about 30 yards on 10 carries, punched the pigskin in from about one yard out around with about 7:53 left in the fourth quarter. With the extra point blocked, Cartersville extended its lead to 16-7.
Two plays later, the Lions torched the Canes’ defense on a blazing 75-yard touchdown strike. On the team’s ensuing possession, Cartersville could only get to its own 29, giving Central several minutes to try and complete the humongous upset win.
The Cartersville defense, however, stood tall, with Orr securing his second interception of the game with about 2:24 remaining in the quarter. Following a few runs up the gut from Thomas, Webb assumed the victory formation and the Cartersville offense ran out the remaining seconds on the clock.
As for the offensive adjustments his team made in the second half, Foster said there weren’t too many things that required major tweaking.
“Just a bunch of guys determined to finish blocks and take care of the football,” he said. “That was the big thing.”
Another region road test awaits Cartersville Friday, as the Canes look to remain unbeaten against LaGrange.