This year’s game was nearly as frantic with both sides combining for 29 fourth-quarter points with the one stark difference illustrated on the scoreboard — a 35-28 win for the host Ramblers, who beat Cartersville for the first time ever in a series that dates back to 1956.
The Canes trailed 21-6 at halftime but pulled within eight points in the third quarter on Marcus Jones’ run from inside the 5-yard line.
LaFayette managed to push its lead to 35-13 in the fourth quarter before Cartersville compiled a couple of scoring drives for a late rally. Canes quarterback Tyler Will hit Elijah Windom for a nearly 80-yard touchdown on a shovel pass and Jones converted the two-point try to bring the score to 35-21. Will then added a 5-yard run for another touchdown and Cartersville was down by 7.
The Canes could not complete the comeback, however, and lost for the second time in three games.
“[We] had the ball on their side of the 40 [yard line] going in and had an opportunity to tie the game and put it in overtime. The biggest thing for me looking at that game is our kids battled — they played hard and it hurt ’em to lose,” Cartersville coach Frank Barden said. “[They are a] good group of boys with great character. I thoroughly enjoy working with them every week.
The Ramblers struck first in the opening quarter before Jones’ run from the goal line made it 7-6, a score that stood following a block extra point in the second quarter. LaFayette tacked on two more scores, including one right before the half, for a 15-point lead.
“We dug ourselves a hole early but the one thing about our team is we got such great kids, and they played hard,” Barden said. “It’s a game of opportunities. They blitzed in and sacked us on the first series and got a turnover, and they scored.”
The 16th-year Canes coach said the Ramblers had eight men in the box to slow a Cartersville attack that produced 168 rushing yards in a Sept. 2 victory against Darlington. The strategy forced the Canes to throw more but the scoreboard factored into that as well.
“It was a little bit of both. The first half kind of played into their game plan and the second half we went to the pass,” said Barden, whose quarterback, Will, threw for more than 200 yards. “You have to make a decision when you’re playing in a game and they went in to take away the run.”
Cartersville will make an even longer trip for its next game, a Thursday nighter against Ringgold in Chattanooga that makes for a short week.
“[We are going to face] another good opponent on the road — big challenge for us [against] a well-coached football team in Ringgold,” Barden said.
As for having a short week, the Canes coach said his team will adjust its schedule as it did for the most recent holiday.
“We’re gonna try to make it the same as last week … last week was Labor Day,” Barden continued. “We’re gonna bring ’em in [today] and make it just a normal week. We’ll still get our four practices in.”
Cartersville (1-2) and Ringgold (3-0) are scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m. in Finley Stadium Davenport Field, home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Moccasins.