The Coffee Trojans defeated the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes 33-12 in the GHSA Class 5A semifinals on Friday night.
In the opening quarter, both squads showcased outstanding defense. Ryan Johnson of Cartersville executed an impressive punt, pinning Coffee at their own 2-yard line. Unable to advance, the Trojans punted from their end zone. After a 10-yard return by Logan Shrewsbury, Cartersville took possession at the Coffee 30-yard line. Unfortunately, the Canes failed to move the ball forward, losing seven yards and punting after a delay-of-game penalty. Johnson, once again, pinned Coffee inside its own 10-yard line and forced another punt.
As the first quarter concluded, Cartersville punted again, this time giving Coffee better field position at their own 33-yard line. Early in the second quarter, Fred Brown scored on a 5-yard touchdown run, putting the first points on the board. Cartersville’s offense struggled, resulting in another punt. Coffee moved down the field, scoring a field goal after a touchdown was nullified by a personal foul. This extended the Trojan lead.
Once more, the Cartersville offense punted as Coffee’s defense thwarted their efforts. A 48-yard touchdown pass from Maurice Hansley to Patrick McCall further extended the Trojan lead to 17-0 with 1:47 left in the half.
Cartersville had one more chance with 80 yards to drive before halftime but failed to do so. The Canes had six possessions, punting on five and having the sixth cut short by the clock. To secure a victory, Cartersville needed to score while preventing Coffee from adding more points, a challenge as Coffee received the ball in the third quarter.
Before Cartersville could implement offensive changes, the defense struggled against Coffee’s rushing attack. Brown’s second touchdown run concluded an 80-yard drive, putting the game seemingly out of reach. However, Cartersville’s offense found the end zone with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Nate Russell to Connor Brasfield, though the 2-point conversion was unsuccessful. Coffee quickly responded with Jaquavious Simpkins scoring a rushing touchdown.
In the third quarter’s closing minutes, Cartersville scored on a 9-yard touchdown run by Andrew Purdy but failed the 2-point conversion, trailing 31-12 with under 14 minutes left. Cartersville forced a Coffee punt in the fourth quarter, marking the first time Coffee was held from scoring since the first quarter. The Canes’ offense efficiently moved down the field, narrowing the lead to 31-18 after a Richard Houston rushing score.
On the subsequent drive, the Coffee runner’s potential fumble was ruled down by officials. Coffee punted, and Cartersville regained possession at their 8-yard line. However, Cartersville couldn’t muster a scoring drive, turning the ball over to Coffee on downs. Late in the game, Russell committed an intentional grounding penalty to add a safety to the score and put the finishing touches on Coffee’s impressive win.
Cartersville concluded the season with a 13-1 record, reaching the semifinals in the state playoffs and securing a Region 7-5A championship.
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