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Canes overcome early deficit, earn repeat trip to Dome and state finals

The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes trailed early Friday night at Weinman Stadium, but responded well on their way to a 38-17 semifinal victory over Mary Persons. Cartersville will now play for the GHSA Class AAAA state championship for a second consecutive year.

The Canes turned the ball over twice by fumble and trailed 14-0 after one quarter, but outscored the visiting Bulldogs 38-3 over the final three periods for a 21-point victory and a return visit to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Mary Persons took their early lead on a long touchdown pass and a one-yard run.

Roger Akins was on the receiving end of a 43-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Speir that gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 5:55 left in the opening quarter. After the Canes fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Mary Persons went 18 yards on three plays to take a 14-0 lead with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter on a Zach Harvey one-yard plunge.

Down by two touchdowns, Trevor Lawrence connected twice with E.J. Turner for touchdowns and Trey Creamer scored on a 54-yard dash to give Cartersville a 21-17 halftime lead.

The first Turner touchdown was set up by a 36-yard play from Lawrence to Avery Showell. Turner then made his eight-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 14-7 in the first minute of the second quarter.

Mary Persons responded with a 21-yard field goal by Alexander Rivera to take a 17-7 lead, before Creamer broke loose on a 54-yard touchdown run with 6:12 remaining in the first half. Cruz, who made all his PAT attempts, connected to pull the Canes with three points at 17-14.

The second Lawrence to Turner touchdown of the second quarter put Cartersville ahead for good. Lawrence scrambled and reversed his field before finding Turner for an 18-yard throw and catch on a third and 13 play. The touchdown gave the Canes a 21-17 halftime advantage.

Lawrence hooked up with Darien Poellnitz for a three-yard touchdown pass out of the Canes’ heavy package in the third quarter. The scoring play culminated a nine-play, 50-yard drive and gave Cartersville a 28-17 lead with 6:23 remaining in the period. The touchdown came on a third and goal play. Junior placekicker Jonathan Cruz added a 31-yard field goal for the Canes before Trey Creamer caught a screen pass from Lawrence and scampered 29 yards for another touchdown as the Canes pulled away in the second half.

The Cartersville defense limited Mary Persons to only 26 total yards in the second half to secure the Hurricanes’ 29th consecutive win.

Lawrence finished the night 16-of-23 for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Creamer gained 140 yards and scored one touchdown on 18 carries. He also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass.

Turner hauled in six receptions for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Showell caught two passes for 52 yards and Antoine Jefferson made five receptions for 46 yards.

On defense, Showell led the Canes with seven tackles and two sacks. Poellnitz, Brandon Wade, and Nyvin Nelson finished with five tackles each. Poellnitz’s stops included a sack and Wade broke up a pass. Torrian Scrutchins added three tackles for loss and a sack, while Trevor Lowe picked off a pass and Xavior Coaxum forced on Bulldogs’ fumble.

Cartersville (14-0) will face Thomson (14-0) next Saturday (Dec. 10) in the Class AAAA state championship game at The Georgia Dome.

Thomson won its semifinal game Friday night over visiting Jefferson, 27-6.

Thomson’s Michael Thomas rushed for a touchdown and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Trey Parker to lead the unbeaten Bulldogs into the finals. Mills Ridings and Bubba Murray each added Thomson rushing touchdowns.


Game statistics supplied by Jason Greenberg, The Daily Tribune News.

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