The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes fell short of their fifth state championship on Wednesday, as they fell to the Warner Robins Demons 62-28.
Everything started off better than what many could envision for the Canes when Sam Phillips took the opening kickoff 94 yards into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead just 14 seconds into the contest. Surely winning a state championship wouldn’t be this easy.
And it wouldn’t be.
Warner Robins marched promptly down the field as it capped off a 92-yard drive with a 1-yard rushing score from Ahmad Walker with 6:40 left in the opening quarter. The Purple Hurricane offense impressed on its first drive of the game, as it was able to expose a hole in the Warner Robins secondary and score on a 26-yard touchdown pass to once again regain the lead with 3:43 left in the opening period.
Warner Robins’ offense again looked impressive on its second possession and capped off a 79-yard touchdown drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Addie to Malcolm Brown. With 11:43 left in the first half, both teams were tied at 14. The second quarter would be a devilish one for Cartersville. Carlos Del-Rio-Wilson threw an interception on Cartersville’s third possession and just two plays later, Addie threw a 29-yard touchdown to Kaleb Howard to give Warner Robins its first lead of the game 21-14 with 9:43 left in the opening half. On the next Cartersville possession, a snap would sail over the head of Del Rio-Wilson which would force a 4th-and-long and a Purple Hurricane punt. The Warner Robins offense continued to plow through the Cartersville defense en route to a 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 5-yard run by Addie. Cartersville had been down two scores before, but not this late and not a team as touted as Warner Robins.
After another Cartersville punt, Warner Robins again imposed its will against the Hurricane defense as it marched down the field for a 73-yard drive that would end with Addie’s second 5-yard touchdown run to extend the Demons lead to 35-14 with just over one minute left in the first half.
The second quarter was one of the worst in recent memory for Cartersville fans. Warner Robins outscored the Canes 28-0 and had two turnovers to boot. At the half, things looked bleak for Cartersville. It had just 115 total yards to Warner Robins 347 and was down where it really mattered by 21.
The third quarter began much of the way the second ended as the Demons marched 85 yards down the field and capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown run by Jahlen Rutherford. Down 28, the Cartersville offense was not going away without a fight. Del Rio-Wilson connected with Evan Slocum on a 22-yard wheel route to cut into the lead and snap the 35-0 scoring run by Warner Robins. Unfortunately for Cartersville fans, it wasn’t enough to turn momentum as Warner Robins would score the game’s next 20 points before Quante Jennings scored with left 2:20 in regulation.
An impressive performance, for sure, by Warner Robins, which scored on its first nine possessions of the game. If not for a fumble by the second-team offense with five minutes remaining, the damage could have been more.
Cartersville’s season ends as the state runner-up in Class 5A.