However, Cartersville’s speed and big play ability can put lopsided numbers on the scoreboard in a hurry against any opponent, and that is exactly what happened Friday night as the Purple Hurricanes defeated Rockmart by a score of 41-0.
“We challenged our kids to come out and play hard coming off a big win last week and that’s what they did,” Cartersville coach Frank Barden said. “Our kids are doing a great job. Our goal is to see if we can get better every week and that’s our mindset right now.”
The big play ability Cartersville has was apparent its very first offensive play when Brandon Long took a handoff and went 46-yards to pay dirt just over a minute and a half into the game.
The touchdown came after a Rockmart three-and-out in the Yellow Jackets’ first possesion. After Rockmart went three-and-out on its second possesion, the Canes scored just two plays later on two passes from Brooks Barden to T.L. Ford.
The drive encompassed 48 yards to make the score 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.
“We’re just trying to keep balance between the run and pass and move the ball,” Barden said.
The Canes were able to achieve balance on offense as they recorded 175 yards rushing and 161 yards passing in the first half.
Those yards materialized into more points with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter when Barden connected with Gordon Gray for a 10-yard touchdown.
The play was set up by a Devin Henderson interception on defense that led to Cartersville taking over at the Rockmart 14-yard line. Rockmart did not complete a pass against Cartersville’s defense the entire game and only managed 53 yards of total offense and two first downs.
Normally posing a three-man front on defense, Barden and his staff employed extra lineman to stop the Yellow Jackets’ run-heavy attack.
“I think our coaches do a great job of devising a gameplan and our kids do a good job of working hard and executing the gameplan,” Barden said.
One player who has been a standout on the defensive line already this season is senior Alex Barnes. Barnes had four tackles, including a sack, in just a half of work Friday night.
The defense continued its dominance on Rockmart by forcing another three-and-out nearing the end of the first quarter. The offense took advantage as soon as it got the ball back when Brandon Long received the handoff and ran 68 yards for his second touchdown of the game to put Cartersville up by a score of 27-0 before the two-minute mark had been reached in the first quarter.
The offense would score again on its first two possesions of the second quarter thanks to touchdown passes from Barden to Tiamon Pennymon and Trase Fezzia.
Cartersville just let the clock run down on its third possesion of the second quarter, but the damage had already been done. At halftime, the Canes led 41-0 and recorded 336 yard of offense.
Barden went 10-for-13 for 161 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also ran for 34 yards on four attempts, including a conversion on a third-and-six to keep the chains moving on a touchdown-scoring drive.
Long recorded his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance with his 116 on four carries Friday night.
Both Barden and Long rested in the second half along with the rest of the starters, but Frank Barden believes his team still improved Friday night.
“Every week we are getting quality reps and that’s what you want,” Barden said. “Our offensive line is only going to get better every week and that’s the goal for the team, to get better Monday through Thursday and get better every week.”
Cartersville will move into region play on Sept. 20 as North Murray visits Weinman Stadium.