Cartersville fell behind early, but scored 42 unanswered points — including 35 in the second half — to take a Class AAAA quarterfinal win Friday night over Baldwin on a rain-soaked Braves’ Field in Milledgeville.
Marcus Gary (photo) had a huge night running the football on the muddy track, the Canes committed no turnovers, and the defense came up big again after some early adjustments.
Gary rushed for 196 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and the defense forced four turnovers.
With the victory, the Hurricanes improved to 13-0 on the season and will host Marist next Friday night at Weinman Stadium in the state semifinals.
The win also gives the Cartersville senior class a 54-1 mark in their careers. Cartersville has now made the state semifinals 12 times in the last 30 years and five times in the last seven seasons.
Baldwin led 13-0 early on a Derrick Lewis 21-yard screen pass for a touchdown to Noah Hill and a 22-yard run by Zaahir Salahuddin.
The first Baldwin touchdown was set up with a short field after Cartersville turned the ball over on downs with a fake punt. The second Braves' drive was 93 yards and was keyed by two big Salahuddin runs.
Baldwin returned the short-field favor midway through the second quarter with a mishandled punt snap. The turnover on downs launched a 30-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 3-yard plunge by Gary. The touchdown narrowed the lead to 13-7 after the first of six Oscar Hernandez PATs and was the beginning of the 42-point barrage.
Trailing by six at the intermission, Cartersville outscored Baldwin 35-0 in the second half.
Quarterback Tee Webb (photo) connected with Trendon Horton on a 62-yard scoring strike on the Canes’ first possession of the second half to take a 14-13 lead.
Webb finished the night 4-for-8 through the air and later added a rushing touchdown.
Isaiah Chaney recovered a fumble to set up Cartersville’s next 44-yard scoring drive.
Gary scored on a six-yard run for a 21-13 lead at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter and then broke loose on a 52-yard jaunt to give the Canes a 28-13 lead with 1:01 left in the period.
A Baldwin penalty on the ensuing kickoff return forced the Braves to start from their own 7-yard line and Marquail Coaxum, who also had a fumble recovery in the game, picked off a pass and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown to give Cartersville a 35-13 lead with 11:50 left in the game.
Evan Slocum’s interception set up the Hurricanes’ final score of the night. His return to the Baldwin 35-yard line set up a short drive capped by Webb on a 3-yard keeper.
The Braves' season ends with a 7-6 record.
Cartersville (13-0) will host Marist (11-2) next Friday night at Weinman Stadium in the Class AAAA state semifinals. Marist edged Mary Persons 10-7 on a last second field goal. The Canes and War Eagles will matchup for the first time in 88 years. Marist leads the all-time series 1-0-1. The two teams tied 6-6 in 1930 when Andy Weinman was the head coach for the Hurricanes. Marist won a 1925 game, 46-0.
Troup (12-1) defeated Cairo 20-17 and will travel to Roswell to face Blessed Trinity (13-0) in the other state semifinal. Blessed Trinity overpowered Eastside Friday night, 42-15. The two semifinal winners will advance to the Class AAAA title game the following week at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.