The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes defeated the Coffee Trojans 24-17 on Friday night to advance to the Class 5A state championship on December 30th.
Cartersville scored first as it marched 75 yards down the field in just over seven minutes on its opening drive. Quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson scored on the 2-yard plunge to put the Canes up early. On Coffee’s first possession, the running back fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Cartersville. The Canes were not able to put any points on the board, as the field goal attempt was blocked. Cartersville remained on top 7-0 however.
Coffee then went on a long, touchdown drive of its own, as Maurice Turner scored on a 7-yard rush to tie the game up at 7. Following a Cartersville punt, Noah Saylor kicked a 36-yard field goal for Coffee to give the Trojans their first lead of the game with 2:48 left in the opening half.
Then a weird sequence of events unfolded. Cartersville received the kickoff and then turned the ball over on a fumble. Coffee returned the favor with a fumble of its own, but its mistake was costly as Amari Orr grabbed the loose football and went 75 yards on the scoop-and-score to give Cartersville the lead 14-10.
Coffee opened up the second half with the football, but the offense went three-and-out to put the ball back in the hands of the Cartersville offense, which had been stymied by the Coffee defense after the game’s opening touchdown. Both would exchange punts before Cartersville put a drive together, which would end on a 37-yard field goal by Oscar Hernandez to give the Canes a 17-10 lead with 5:01 left in the third quarter. Coffee got the ball back with the intention of answer Cartersville’s score.
With 10:44 left in the game, A.J. Wilkerson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Turner to tie the game at 17-17. Cartersville got the ball back, and the high-powered offense appeared to be back in action as Evan Slocum scored on a 40-yard screen pass from Del Rio-Wilson to give Cartersville the lead 24-17 with just over eight minutes left in regulation.
Both teams would once again exchange punts, but it was Coffee that had the ball last with a chance to tie the game. The Trojans got into the red zone but were unable to score in the closing seconds of the game to push Cartersville to overtime.
Cartersville will now turn its eyes to a state championship game against Warner Robins on Wednesday, December 30th at 3:30 PM. You will be able to hear the action on WBHF.