CANTON – Cartersville ended Cherokee's unbeaten start to the season with a 28-7 win Friday night at Tommy Baker Field.
The Purple Hurricanes (4-0) started the game with a dominant drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Quante Jennings Jr. to take the early 7-0 lead.
Cherokee (4-1) looked to answer with a drive of its own, but Cartersville recovered a fumble on a screen pass to take a quick 14-0 lead.
The call was controversial as many -- including Warriors coach Josh Shaw -- believed the pass should have been ruled incomplete.
“The fumble that was returned for a touchdown should not have been ruled a fumble,” he said. “I don’t usually complain about officiating, but that call really took the wind out of our sails, and we were never really able to recover. That’s on us as coaches though to get our guys going after something doesn’t go our way.”
It was all Cartersville from that point on, in part, due to the play of quarterback Tee Webb. Webb finished 7-for-11 passing for 219 yards and one touchdown. His lone touchdown came from a 65-yard connection with Devonte Ross.
The touchdown toss came at an important time of the game for the Purple Hurricanes.
There was a point where the momentum was shifting back towards Cherokee's favor as it had just scored a touchdown on a 12-play drive to cut the score down to 21-7. The crowd began cheering loudly, hoping to continue to ride the newly found momentum, but on the very first play of the next drive, Ross and Webb connected on the 65-yard deep ball that took the air out of the stadium and ultimately put the game away.
In the end, the athletes on the field for Cartersville were too much for Cherokee to handle.
“On a couple of those deep balls that they completed, our kids were in position to make a play on the ball, but the athletic ability of their receivers was just too much to handle,” Shaw said.
Overall, Cartersville tallied 379 yards of offense, while Cherokee only accumulated 176 yards of offense.
“We didn’t execute today the way we had in the previous four games,” Shaw said. “That’s a great team filled with amazing athletes, so we knew it was going to be a big challenge. They played with more consistency than we did, and they were able to keep drives going. Defensively, we played well, but we just have to be more consistent from this point on.”
Cartersville will play Cedartown at home next week, while Cherokee will play Etowah.