Cartersville tri­umphs over Marist

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS -

The Class 4A fi­nal will at least fea­ture one team from Re­gion 5-4A, though ev­ery­one wishes it were some­one closer to home.

How­ever, Cartersville came out on top in their semi­fi­nal matchup to re­main un­de­feated at 14-0 head­ing into a match-up at MercedesBenz Sta­dium in At­lanta next week.

The Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes nar­rowly squeaked out a 17-14 win over Marist. It’ll be the lat­est trip for Head Coach Joey King to the state ti­tle game.

Cartersville over­came four turnovers by first year quar­ter­back Tee Webb in a come­back af­ter Marist at one point held a 14-10 lead. Webb’s re­demp­tion came on a third and 12 that re­sulted in a touch­down pass to Sopho­more Devonte Ross for the win.

They’ll face Blessed Trinity in a re­match of the 2017 ti­tle game. It’ll be their op­por­tu­nity at a third state ti­tle in four years. They’ll play af­ter Rock­mart’s game at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12

Re­venge-minded Warner Robins brings end to Rome’s sea­son

WARNER ROBINS – This was a feel­ing Rome fans had not felt in a long time.

De­spite the re­solve of the Rome High foot­ball team to rally back from a 28-14 deficit in the third quar­ter, the Wolves were un­able to make a fi­nal push on the road against Warner Robins and lost to the Demons 45-28 last Fri­day in the Class 5A state semi­fi­nals.

The de­feat cuts short Rome’s quest of play­ing for a third straight state cham­pi­onship and ends its string of 40 con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries, a mark that served as the long­est cur­rent streak of any team in the state prior to last Fri­day’s game.

The last time the Wolves had lost was Sept. 9, 2016, when Re­gion 7-5A foe Kell edged out Rome 33-30 in Cobb County. That sea­son saw Rome win its first of three re­gion cham­pi­onships un­der head coach John Reid, which led to the first state foot­ball cham­pi­onship in Rome High his­tory.

Reid was re­flec­tive af­ter the loss Fri­day night at Mc­Connell-Tal­bert Sta­dium – the place where Rome won it’s sec­ond state ti­tle just less than a year be­fore. He spoke about the se­niors, who fin­ish with a record of 49-7 over their four sea­sons.

“You can’t say enough about them,” Reid said. “We en­joy spend­ing time with them and I feel bad for them. The way we go about things is we never think that there is go­ing to be an end. So tonight, there is an end, but there is no loser on this field. These kids went at it. They fought un­til the end.”

Down 28-14 af­ter a Warner Robins touch­down drive to open the third quar­ter, Rome (13-1) re­gained its com­po­sure when a De­mon punt went just 16 yards af­ter a Rome bounce to put the Wolves on the Warner Robins 29-yard line with 6:08 on the clock.

Quar­ter­back Knox Kadum and re­ceiver Xavier Roberts-Don­ald­son co­or­di­nated a combo on the very next play from scrim­mage, with Kadum’s screen pass to his fel­low se­nior sent back to the QB as he ran down the far side­line.

Kadum’s catch on the run led to a touch­down, and kicker Alonzo Ro­driguez made his third of four ex­tra points to put Rome within a score.

Two plays into the en­su­ing De­mon drive, Warner Robins quar­ter­back Dy­lan Fromm was picked off by DeKe­rion Jones and re­turned to the 16. Rome se­nior run­ning back Jamious Grif­fin ran the ball four straight times and got into the end zone on a 4-yard scam­per with 3:57 to go in the quar­ter to tie the game at 28-28.

It would be as close as the Wolves would get to the lead in the sec­ond half, how­ever, as their fi­nal three drives would end without a score while Warner Robins (12-2) would lean on Fromm to get them 17 unan­swered points be­fore the fi­nal buzzer.

“Coming into this sea­son, we didn’t know if we could win the re­gion or make the play­offs. And they went all the way to the semi­fi­nals on some­one else’s field,” Reid said. “I think early on some of their drives just got ex­tended by some un­timely penal­ties and we couldn’t over­come that. I thought we had a good run in the third quar­ter and it was a back-and-forth game. They got the best of us in the end. They had a good game plan.

Three of Warner Robins’ first four touch­down drives in­cluded costly Rome penal­ties on third-and­long that kept the Demons’ of­fense on the field. The host’s de­fense kept Grif­fin hemmed up most of the night, with his long­est run be­ing a 27-yard carry in the third quar­ter.

Kadum, who is a fouryear starter, was in on the Wolves’ first two touch­downs. He com­pleted a flea-flicker play with a 41-yard touch­down pass to Roberts-Don­ald­son to cap an 88-yard drive in the first quar­ter that led to a 7-0 Rome lead, and then pushed his way be­hind his of­fen­sive line from less than a yard out in the sec­ond quar­ter to tie the game up 14-14.

Fromm fin­ished the game with 373 yards pass­ing for four touch­downs, two of which went to re­ceiver Mar­cayll Jones.

Jack­ets fall in Fi­nal Four to Peach County

In what turned out to be just as much of a bru­tal, phys­i­cal slugfest of a game as ini­tially ad­ver­tised be­tween a pair of Class AAA’s most dy­namic and com­plete rosters, the Peach County Tro­jans proved more op­por­tunis­tic, de­feat­ing Cal­houn 22-7 last Fri­day at The Reeve and clos­ing the door on the Jack­ets’ state play­off run.

As with many games be­tween equal op­po­nents, it was ap­par­ent from the open­ing whis­tle that the team that made the least amount of mis­takes, while also cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the op­po­si­tion’s mis­cues, would emerge vic­to­ri­ous, and that’s is ex­actly what pro­pelled Peach County (12-2) to an early lead.

On a fourth-and-long on Cal­houn’s (13-1) third pos­ses­sion, Peach County’s Jamir Best busted through the of­fen­sive line and got his hands on a Aaron Hayes punt at­tempt for a punt block, while also pounc­ing the loose ball him­self, to give the Tro­jans op­ti­mal field po­si­tion on the Jack­ets’ six-yard line.

Peach County quar­ter­back Jay­don Gib­son soon cashed in, powering in a quar­ter­back keeper for a six-yard, tone-set­ting touch­down.

“We made too many mis­takes to win the ball­game,” Cal­houn head coach Hal Lamb said. “We had our op­por­tu­ni­ties to score early, but you can’t make mis­takes like we did tonight, like those two blun­ders in the punt team, and you can’t do that against good teams. Our kids played hard, but we just couldn’t ex­e­cute like we needed to.”

Cal­houn main­tained its com­po­sure af­ter that deficit, how­ever, and quickly pro­duced an an­swer. Sparked by a 46-yard screen pass from quar­ter­back Gavin Gray to Bralin Bar­ton, in which Bar­ton snagged the pass then sliced through mul­ti­ple de­fend­ers, the Jack­ets capped off a its only scor­ing drive with a one-yard quar­ter­back sneak mus­cled in by Gray in the early sec­ond quar­ter.

It looked as if the Jack­ets were poised to flip the field on an in­ter­cep­tion by Bran­non Spec­tor on the next pos­ses­sion. How­ever, Cal­houn un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally failed to trans­form the turnover into points, with the of­fense go­ing three-and-out in what had the ap­pear­ance of an op­por­tu­nity for a turn­ing point in the game.

Spe­cial teams ex­e­cu­tion then harmed the Jack­ets again, as Hayes strug­gled to hold onto the snap due to the wet con­di­tions and dropped the ball. This time, it was Noah Whit­ting­ton who scooped up the fum­ble on the Cal­houn 46.

In a night where both sig­nal-callers strug­gled to con­nect deep for most of the night, Gib­son pro­duced per­haps the best throw of the game on a 31-yard pass to Justin Harris for six, with the Tro­jans fail­ing to con­vert the ex­tra point. Peach County en­tered the half­time locker room with a 13-6 edge on the score­board.

It seemed as Peach County ratch­eted up its pres­sure on both the de­fen­sive line and se­condary in the sec­ond half, win­ning the bat­tle of the trenches in a third quar­ter that was largely de­fined by sacks, punts and neg­a­tive plays. The Tro­jans man­aged to ex­tend its lead to 16-7 on a 31-yard field goal by Rene Galan.

The Jack­ets showed a lot of re­silience in the fi­nal pe­riod, halt­ing the Tro­jans on a fourth-and­goal in or­der to cre­ate a cou­ple more op­por­tu­ni­ties to try and rally. Al­though mo­ments later, Harris added what proved to be the dag­ger in fa­vor of Peach County, re­turn­ing an in­ter­cep­tion 46 yards for a touch­down to lock in the win.

It was tough sled­ding from both a pass­ing and rush­ing stand­point for Cal­houn, with Gray mak­ing the most of the small win­dows he had to throw. He fin­ished 19-40 pass­ing for 244 yards along with his rush­ing score. Bralin Bar­ton was the lead­ing re­ceiver with six catches for 72 yards. With the gapdis­ci­pline and phys­i­cal­ity of the Tro­jan de­fense, and an early exit due to an ap­par­ent in­jury for Zack Fuller, Cal­houn was led in rush­ing by Spec­tor, who had 16 yards on one long carry.

The loss puts a end on an­other dec­o­rated, ex­hil­a­rat­ing and suc­cess­ful chap­ter of Cal­houn foot­ball. It’s the last time that one of the pro­gram’s most ac­com­plished se­nior classes will strap on the hel­met.

“[This se­nior class] is a spe­cial bunch,” Lamb said. “They are a tightknit group that felt like it had a chance to win a state cham­pi­onship.”

“But this time of year ev­ery­one is good, if you don’t come and play well you’ll get beat. But these se­niors are un­be­liev­able, and they have done ev­ery­thing I have asked them to do. A lot of them will go on to play at the next level. We we want them to go on to be good fa­thers and good hus­bands, and there are a lot more im­por­tant things in life than this game.”

In­for­ma­tion for this re­port was com­piled with re­ports from the Rome News-Tri­bune Sports Edi­tor Jeremy Ste­wart, Cal­houn Times Sports Edi­tor Tyler Ser­ritt, and from the Cartersville Daily Tri­bune News.

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