Cartersville 10 Buford 0
Game changer: Cartersville’s Tiamon Pennymon did well to pick up Anthony Grant’s fumble, which led to the Hurricanes scoring just inside halftime. That would end up being enough to secure a state championship.
Stat that matters: 4. Buford gave up four turnovers, including three picks and a fumble in the state title loss.
Turning point: Buford quarterback Mic Roof led a strong drive from the Wolves’ 12 to the Cartersville 13, but was picked off on the goal line, shifting momentum squarely to the Hurricanes with less than four minutes to play.
Cartersville: Tiamon Pennymon 11-23; Trey Creamer 5-14; Trevor Lawrence 8-minus 1; A. Jefferson 1-minus 1; TEAM 3-minus 19.
Buford: Martin Mangram 12-40; Christian Turne 9-38; T.D. Roof 3-35; Xavier Gantt 10-33; Josh Blackwell 1-4; J. Singleton 1-0; Mic Roof 2-minus 13.
Cartersville: Trevor Lawrence 11-23-0-141; A. Jefferson 0-1-0-0.
Buford: Mic Roof 10-20-3-103.
Cartersville: Trey Creamer 3-61; M. Forristall 3-21; T. Callahan 2-45; Tony Dean 2-10; A. Jefferson 1-4.
Buford: Brandon Marsh 6-68; Martin Mangram 1-22; Reid Parks 1-7; Josh Blackwell 1-4; Anthony Grant 1-2.
Cartersville: Xavior Coaxum 1-26; Trey Creamer 1-0; Tyler Reed 1-0.
Cartersville: TEAM 2-0.
Buford: Martin Mangram 1-0; Christian Turner 1-1.
Cartersville cashed in on two devastating Buford turnovers and pulled off an impressive defensive display to secure their third state title in school history with a 10-0 shutout of the Wolves Saturday evening at the Georgia Dome.
The unbeaten Hurricanes (15-0) topped the three-time defending state champion by scoring all of their points in the second quarter, then holding on late to complete an unlikely victory.
Coming into Saturday’s final, Buford (13-2) hadn’t been shut out since Sept. 3, 2010 when the Wolves suffered a 14-0 regular-season loss to Carver-Columbus.
“We’ve got a terrible taste in our mouths heading into the offseason and we’ll get stronger from that,” said Buford quarterback Mic Roof.
Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence converted a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver Miller Forrsitall two plays after Wolves sophomore tailback Anthony Grant fumbled on the Buford 5 with 1:55 left in the opening half.
Two drives earlier, the Hurricanes took the lead when Jonathan Cruz converted a 47-yard field goal.
Cartersville allowed Buford to reach the red zone just once all evening, shutting down a high-powered Buford offense that averaged 45 points per game coming into Atlanta.
With 7:37 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Roof led an inspiring drive by making six straight completions for 69 yards that put Buford on the Canes’ 13.
But senior linebacker Tyler Reed picked off the junior on the goal line, allowing the Canes to run out the remaining time.
“It was the right play call, it was a really good play call,” said Roof, who was trying to find receiver Brandon Marsh on an inside route. “It was just poor execution.”
Roof (10-of-20 passing for 103 yards) finished with three interceptions. His opposite number, the highly-touted sophomore Lawrence, had an inconsistent but clean night, throwing for 141 yards on 11 completions.
Lawrence currently has 14 college offers, including Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss.
“Our quarterback did a great job,” said Cartersville coach Joey King. “We definitely wanted to try to contain (Buford).”
The Wolves converted just six of their 12 chances on third down and were unable to convert either of their fourth down opportunities.
But Buford’s slow offensive start wasn’t punished until the waning moments of the second half.
Cartersville’s Tiamon Pennymon picked up Grant’s fumble inside the Buford 10, Forristall held on to a strong catch in the end zone and the Hurricanes achieved a comfortable margin.
Roof and Marsh combined for four straight completions and gained valuable momentum as Buford drove from its own 12 to Cartersville’s 13 with less than eight minutes left in the game, but Reed did well to step in front of Marsh for the pick.
Senior tailback Xavier Gantt (10 carries for 33 yards) suffered a suspected leg injury just before halftime and only played two snaps in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Christian Turner (nine carries for 45 yards) and senior Martin Mangram (12 carries for 40 yards) paced Buford’s offense, which led Cartersville 14-8 in first downs, but was unable to string together meaningful drives.
Buford led in total offensive yards (240 to 157), but was undone by a stout Cartersville defense that bent, but never broke.
“They shut down the run early,” said Marsh. “We started having to do different things, but they could figure out every trick we had, every pass we had. ... We should have capitalized. Coming into this game, we thought we could win and we shouldn’t be happy with it.”
Buford has made it to the state title game each of the last nine years, winning seven state titles since 2007.
The Wolves were looking to equal its streak of winning a state championship in four straight years. The last time Buford did that was from 2007-2010.
Cartersville last won a state title in 1999. The Hurricanes fell to Buford in last year’s state semifinal at Tom Riden Stadium.
“These were two really good defenses today,” said Buford coach Jess Simpson. “Credit to them, we couldn’t get what we needed to flip the field. They were mixing it up, trying different things and a little of it’s a guessing game. It wasn’t our day.”