Barden's final touchdown toss came with the Canes trailing 21-20 late in the fourth quarter and after taking possession just outside their own end zone against a fired-up Bruin team.
The Canes had taken possession after referees ruled a kickoff that went out of bounds at the 6-yard line had first touched a Cartersville player.
With Northwest firing blitzes, Barden (15-of-25 for 203 yards) first handed off to running back Brandon Long, who battled through several Bruin defenders just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Barden followed that up by hitting Greg Davis over the middle for a one-yard pickup. Cartersville then sent Ryan Davis to the center of the field where Barden found him in heavy traffic near the 25, and after the catch the receiver sped out of traffic and kept going, completing a 93-yard touchdown play that stunned the Bruins and let the Canes slip into the lead at 26-21. Barden again found Greg Davis, this time at the goal line, to complete a two-point conversion that gave Cartersville a 28-21 advantage with 4:28 remaining in the contest.
The Bruins took the ensuing kickoff at their 24 and marched to the Cartersville 25 in 12 plays where they were forced to turn the ball over on downs after three consecutive pass attempts failed to find their targets.
"The guys have really matured over the season," head coach Jeff Cave said. "One thing we did this year is our JV actually practices with our varsity every day, so we get beat up on a daily basis."
He said that maturity proved the difference against the Bruins.
Cartersville scored first on the afternoon when Northwest Whitfield fumbled at their 26 and David Coaxum scooped it up and fought his way to the Bruin 6-yard line. Four plays later Barden hit Ford for a 3-yard touchdown, the first of two the receiver would score. Barden found Greg Davis for the two-point conversion and Cartersville had an 8-0 lead.
The Bruins responded late in the second quarter on a 22-yard run by O'Shea Hill.
Cartersville came right back, starting a five-play drive at its 33. Barden hit Ford three times in the drive, including a 29-yarder that advanced the ball to the 17. The next play Barden again found Ford, this time completing the journey to the end zone and letting the Canes take a 14-6 half time lead.
Northwest tied the game the first play of the third quarter after a touchback, with Hill breaking off tackle and veering left and turning on the jets to tally an 80-yard score.
Cartersville's third score came after a Cane punt returner fielded the ball near midfield but encountered a solid wall of Bruin tacklers and coughed up the ball, which took flight and landed in the waiting arms of Camps, who promptly ran away from traffic and found an extra gear as he outran a host of Bruin defenders to score. The two-point conversion attempt was no good and Cartersville held a tenuous 20-14 lead.
It didn't take Northwest long to show just how tenuous that lead was as it responded with an 80-yard touchdown run and went up 21-20.
Coach Cave said the JV team has benefited from its play against the varsity, noting it has run the scout team offense and defense of every team in the region: "One thing I told the guys is Monday through Wednesday is our time to make the varsity better. Thursdays are our pay day. They've really taken advantage of them this year."
He said mapping out the passing attacks used by region teams has rubbed off on the JV offense, too.
"That's not the offense our varsity runs," he said. "What limited time we do have at practice, we go to the side and practice hard. We run all the other teams' offenses in the region and that has really helped us expand our playbook."
SCORING BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 F
CANES 8 6 0 14 28
NW 0 6 8 7 21
CANES: T.L. Ford 3-yd pass from Brooks Barden (2-pt conversion good) 5:37
NW: O'Shea Hill 22-yd run (kick missed) 2:46
CANES: Ford 17-yd pass from Barden (2-pt conversion no good) 0:17
NW: Hill 80-yd run (2-pt conversion good) 9:47
Canes: Jahir Camp recovered fumble and ran 37-yds to score (2-pt conversion no good) 6:31
NW: No. 7 80-yd run (David Perez kick) 6:11
CANES: Ryan Davis 93-yd pass from Barden (2-pt conversion good) 4:28
First downs 7 9
Rushes-yds 19/70 31/208
Passing yds 203 18
Comp-Att-Int 15/25 2/9 Total yds 273 236
Rushing -- Canes: Brandon Long 12/30, Brooks Barden 7/40
Passing -- Barden 15/25/203
Receiving -- Canes: Long 2-18, T.L. Ford 6/57, Ryan Davis 2/91, Gordon Gray 2/16, Greg Davis 3/10.