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Canes hold off Bartram Trail on game's final play

The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes raced to a 31-3 lead Saturday night at Weinman Stadium and held off Bartram Trail (St. Johns, FL) on the game’s final play for a 52-45 win in a high intensity second half that was part of the GEICO High School Football Kickoff on the ESPN.

The win was the 32nd straight for Cartersville.

The game started over 90 minutes later than scheduled due to lightning in the area, but it did not seem to phase the Canes in the first half.

Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who finished the night 18 for 22 for 403 yards and five scores, connected with tight end Jackson Lowe for two touchdowns in the opening 11 minutes of the game. Jonathan Cruz added a field goal and the two PATs to give the Canes an early 17-0 lead.

Bartram Trail settled for a field goal on their next possession to narrow the margin to 17-3, but Cartersville quickly squashed any thought the Bears might have had for a first half comeback by scoring on their next three possessions.

An 82-yard Lawrence to T.J. Horton touchdown pass with 9:09 left in the second quarter made the score 24-3. A Rico Frye touchdown run made it 31-3 — and after the Bears’ Joey Gatewood got Bartram Trail in the end zone — Lawrence again connected with Horton on a 36-yard play that gave the Hurricanes a 38-10 advantage with 2:59 remaining in the first half.

Horton would finished the night with 132 yards on six catches and two touchdowns.

Cartersville had six possessions in the first half and scored on each of them with five touchdowns and a field goal.

Bartram Trail, who alternated quarterbacks between Gatewood and Riley Smith marched back down the field in the waning moments of the first half. A 1-yard TD pass by Smith to Robert French gave the Bears their second touchdown of the game to trail 38-17 at the intermission.

Gatewood completed a long pass to Smith on Bartram Trail’s opening possession of the second half. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Gatewood on a keeper that narrowed the Cartersville lead to 38-24 with 9:42 remaining in the third quarter.

Bartram Trail then succeeded on an onside kickoff that was recovered by the Bears’ Branden Sokol at the 50 yard line. From there, Bartram Trail scored on a quick 50-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Griffin Helm with 8:35 left in the thrid period.

It was now a one-score game with Cartersville leading 38-31.

John Amell sacked Lawrence for a 14-yard loss in the ensuing Cartersville possession as the Bartram Trail defense stopped the Canes for the first time in the game.

Cartersville’s first punt of the night was followed by a solid defensive stand that forced Bartram Trail to punt it back to the Canes at the midway point of the third quarter.

From there, Lawrence reestablished the Cartersville offense.

On the drive, he scrambled for 24 yards, found Frye on a 15-yard swing pass, connected with Lowe for 30 yards, and finished the drive with a 13-yard strike to Kaleb Chatmon for his fifth TD pass of the game.

It gave Cartersville a 45-31 lead with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter.

Once again however, Bartram Trail did not go away.

Smith converted two key third down passes on the Bears’ next drive. He also had a 29-yard completion in the series and hit Xavier Hutchinson for a 9-yard score with 11:17 remaining in the game to again cut the Cartersville lead to seven points at 45-38.

When the Bears’ defense forced the second Cartersville punt of the night, Bartram Trail had the ball trailing by only one score with just over ten minutes remaining.

This time it was Gatewood at quarterback for the Bears as they started from their own 25 yard line.

The 6-4, 225-pound Auburn commit converted three short, third down plays with a run and a pair of quick slant passes. Gatewood then added an 11-yard run to the Cartersville 34 yard line before finding Gunnar Hitzeman for a 34-yard touchdown with 7:10 remaining in the game.

On the night, Gatewood finished with 326 yards of total offense. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 191 yards and ran 20 times for 135 yards and two scores.

Just like that, the Bears had overcome a 28-point deficit and the game was tied at 45.

On the Canes ensuing possession, Frye came up big again.

He had a six yard run for a Cartersville first down, caught a 56-yard screen pass from Lawrence that put the Canes on the Bartram Trail nine yard line, and eventually scored on a two yard plunge with 3:40 to go in the game. Cruz’s seventh extra point of the night put Cartersville back on top 52-45.

Frye finished the night with 108 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 attempts. He also caught three passes for 102 yards.

A quick hook-and-lateral play and a scramble by Smith moved the Bears to midfield with 2:50 remaining in the game. Smith then converted on a third down pass to Griffin Helm that reached the Cartersville 35 yard line.

A three-yard run by Devin Ellison on fourth and one kept the drive alive at the Canes 23 yard line and a pass interfernce penalty on Cartersville in the end zone with 0:03 left gave Bartram Trail one final play to tie the game at the Cartersville 12 yard line.

Smith scrambled and bought time for his receivers to try to get open, but he was dropped at the 11 yard line by the Canes’ pursuit to end the game.

Smith's night ended with a 16 for 20 performance for 175 yards and three passing touchdowns.

Bartram Trail (0-1) plays at Daytona Beach-Mainland next Friday.

Cartersville (2-0) hosts Calhoun at Weinman Stadium in a 7:30 pm kickoff.

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