However, the Purple Hurricanes were the team to get off to a strong start Friday night at Weinman Stadium as they ran out to an early lead and went on to defeat the Colonels by a score of 41-7.
“I’m happy with the score and that we won, but I’m not really pleased with the overall performance,” Cartersville head coach Joey King said of the game. “I thought the defense played pretty good, but the offense was sloppy.”
“We have a young bunch and we didn’t start well out of the gate,” Cass head coach Bobby Hughes said. “Our defense played well but they were on the field too much. We gave up some big plays.”
Cartersville was the superior team in the first half and scored 14 points in each the first and second quarters to take a 28-0 lead entering halftime.
The Canes outgained the Colonels 297-7 in the half as Cass was able to attain just one first down.
Cartersville did leave some points on the board, however, as the team’s first drive of the game went as far as the Cass 2-yard line, but came up empty because of a goal line stand by the Colonels. Cartersville’s first drive went 67 yards on 11 plays, but Tiamon Pennymon fumbled on the 2-yard line on fourth down to give Cass the possession.
“We ran the ball pretty well, but we came up empty on the first possession of the first half and [didn’t score a touchdown] on the first possession of the second half,” King said. “We had the ball down there at their end and we have to be able to score there.”
Cartersville was able to score on its second series when a Cass three-and-out allowed the Canes to score on a nine-play, 35-yard drive capped by a Kalin Heath 1-yard run on fourth down. Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence took over for junior starter Miller Forristall and went 4-for-4 on the drive, including three passes to Heath for 22 yards.
Both quarterbacks began well as they combined to go 12-of-14 for 206 yards in the first half while alternating possessions.
“They did well. They made a couple of good throws,” King said of his quarterbacks. “We still need more fire and leadership, but they’re going to get better.”
After another three-and-out from Cass, Kobie Whitfield returned a punt 62 yards just before the end of the first quarter to give Cartersville a 14-0 lead.
Cass’ top playmaker Chris Morton then gave the Cass fans something to cheer about when he returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to give Cass the ball at Cartersville’s 17-yard line.
“It was 14-0 and we broke a kickoff and I thought we had a chance to win,” Hughes said of the play.
Cass was unable to score off of the return, however, as a fumble on the first play of the series was picked up by Cartersville.
Forristall then led an eight-play, 62-yard drive deep into Cass territory. Forristall connected with Heath for 17 yards to begin the drive and later hit Terrius Callahan for 20 yards.
However, an interception by Seth Hughes left Cartersville without points on a long drive once again and gave Cass the ball right back.
Cartersville would eventually reach paydirt on its next drive, though, when Heath ran the ball in from 14 yards out for his second touchdown of the game and a 21-0 lead. The big play of the series came on a 37-yard screen pass to Pennymon.
The Canes would put up one more score just before the half when Forristall connected with Heath on a quick hitter to the middle of the field. The Kansas State commit then split two defenders and outran several defenders to go 57 yards to the Cass 4-yard line. Forristall ran the ball in from there to give Cartersville a 28-0 lead entering the locker room.
Cass raised its level of play in the second half and got started on its first possession with a 14 play, seven-minute drive to go 62 yards for the score. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lowe ran the ball from one yard out to narrow the lead to 28-7.
“They came out in a couple of empty sets and were able to run the ball on us,” King said of how Cass was able to start moving the ball on offense.
The biggest play came on a third-and-7 from the Cartersville 46-yard line when Lowe rolled to his right and found Walter Brown for 16 yards.
“I’m proud of the way they came out in the second half,” Bobby Hughes said. “Nothing [changed]. We challenged them in the second half and they responded.”
Cartersville settled for field goals in its first two possessions of the second half, both by freshman kicker Jonathan Cruz, who hit a pair from 34 and 24 yards out.
“What a job Cruz did,” King said. “He did a tremendous job kicking the football.”
Cass was able to move the ball into Cartersville territory on each of its next two drives, but could not convert on third-and-long in either to give Cartersville the ball back.
Cartersville, meanwhile, was able to score quickly in its first possession of the fourth quarter on an empty-backfield, direct snap to Whitfield, who split the Cass defense up the middle and showed off his speed, running 48 yards for a touchdown. The score would give Cartersville a 41-7 lead and the Canes would hold on from there.
Heath finished with 13 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and also contributed seven receptions for 117 yards in the game. The other half of Cartersville’s one-two combo in the backfield, Pennymon, carried the ball nine times for 68 yards and had five catches for 76 yards.
Forristall also had a strong performance, going 9-for-10 for 180 yards while Lawrence went 8-for-10 for 93 yards.
Tyler Reed was the defensive leader for Cartersville with 10 tackles.
For Cass, Lowe was the leading rusher with seven carries for 28 yards. He also threw for 53 yards in the game.
On defense, Seth Hughes led the way for the Colonels with seven tackles in addition to his interception.
Cass will look to bounce back next week when the Colonels welcome Coosa to Doug Cochran Stadium, while Cartersville will look to go 2-0 Friday at North Cobb.