Cartersville falls to Coffee in semifinals, 33-18
December 2, 2023
Charles Wilson / BartowSportsZone.com
The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes had their 2023 playoff run come to a close Friday night at Weinman Stadium with a 33-18 loss to the Coffee Trojans.
Coffee, who has never won a state title, utilized a run-heavy offense powered by Fred Brown and one of the state’s top scoring defenses to collect a hard-fought win. The Trojans now move on to the Class 5A state championship game on Wednesday, December 13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta where they will face Creekside.
Creekside defeated Jefferson in Friday’s other state semifinal in Class 5A.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Coffee scored on four straight possessions in the second and third quarters to build a 24-0 lead.
A pair of Cartersville touchdowns in the third quarter sandwiched another Coffee score to leave the Trojans with a 31-12 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Cartersville cut the score to 31-18 before a late safety for Coffee ended the scoring for the night.
Cartersville had six offensive possessions in the first half. Five possessions ended with punts and the sixth saw the first half come to a close.
After punting twice in the first quarter, Coffee’s offense found traction with the Trojans’ third possession. Coffee drove 67 yards on nine plays late in the first quarter and in the first minute of the second to take a 7-0 lead with 11:02 remaining in the half.
Brown, who finished the night with 190 yards on 40 carries, punched in a 5-yard run. It would be his first of three touchdowns in the game.
The Trojans had an apparent touchdown run by Brown called back for a personal foul penalty at the 5-yard line on their next possession. The drive stalled following the penalty and Coffee settled for a field goal by kicker Jonah Saylor to make the score 10-0.
On Coffee’s next possession, the Trojans drove 73 yards on just five plays to go ahead 17-0 with 1:47 left in the first half. Quarterback Maurice Hansley shoveled a pass to Patrick McCall who took it 39 yards for the score.
The Trojans made it four consecutive scoring drives at the beginning of the third quarter. Coffee took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards on 12 plays to go ahead 24-0 with 8:47 left in the third quarter. The drive was all running plays and included the conversion of a fourth-and-four play deep in Canes’ territory.
Cartersville narrowed the margin to 24-6 with their initial possession of the second half. Nate Russell completed a 48-yard scoring strike to his tight end, Connor Brasfield, for the score. Brasfield raced down the seam and outran the Trojans’ secondary to the end zone. A two-point conversion pass attempt failed.
Coffee answered immediately. The Trojans started at their 20-yard line with the next possession and drove the distance in 12 plays. Jaquavious Simpkins cashed in an 8-yard touchdown run to put Coffee ahead 31-6 with 3:05 left in the third quarter.
The Canes posted the game’s next two touchdowns.
Andrew Purdy led a five-play, 61-yard drive and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run. Another two-point conversion pass attempt failed but the Canes had cut their deficit to 31-12 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes’ next possession started at their 20-yard line following a Coffee punt. In three quick plays, Cartersville scored again. Khristian Lando, who finished the night with 153 yards on 12 carries, had a 58-yard run and Richard Houston completed the drive with a 22-yard touchdown scamper. A two-point conversion run attempt failed leaving the score 31-18.
After Coffee pinned the Canes near their goal line in the final seconds, the Trojans added a safety when Purdy was called for intentional grounding from his end zone.
Other numbers for Coffee included Maurice Hansley who completed 10-of-12 passes for 157 yards — almost all on short shovel passes with the effect of a speed sweep with McCall. Hansley also had 36 rushing yards. McCall caught six of the described passes for 92 yards and Tyrese Hansley finished with 69 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
For Cartersville, Russell was 4-for-8 passing for 54 yards and one touchdown. He also ran six times for 26 yards. Purdy, who also played quarterback, was 1-for-8 for 15 yards and rushed for 28 yards and one touchdown. Brasfield had three receptions for 60 yards and a score while Kendrick Price had a 15-yard reception.
Cartersville finishes the 2023 season with a 13-1 record, a semifinal appearance, and a Region 7-5A championship.