Heartbreaking. That is the adjective that best describes Calhoun’s 31-14 loss to Cartersville on Friday night at Phil Reeve Stadium. The Jackets fought hard and were in it well into the fourth quarter, but some inopportune mistakes and Cartersville capitalizing on them were the difference in the loss for Calhoun. Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said it best.
“They’re a great football team,” Stephenson said. “We played well but just didn’t play well enough. There were just a few plays here and there that we couldn’t get. They (Cartersville) played a great game.”
After trading interceptions to start the game, a Cartersville field goal with 4:37 to go in the first quarter opened the scoring. After the Hurricanes forced a turnover on downs at the end of a solid drive by the Yellow Jackets, starting quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson led the Purple Hurricanes on a nine-play drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Quanté Jennings.
Despite throwing two interceptions, the big-framed Del-Rio Wilson had a nice night in his first full game for the Hurricanes, as he went 12-of-19 passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown. Stephenson talked about how hard he was to handle for the Jackets’ defense.
“He was (very good),” Stephenson said. “We knew they (Cartersville) were going to be solid at that position, and he played a great game.”
Calhoun answered back on their very next series of the game as Jackets quarterback Christian Lewis led a beautiful 12-play drive that bled over six minutes off the clock. Lewis capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, 45 seconds were left on the clock, and that was all the Cartersville offense needed to answer back. Del Rio-Wilson threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Devonte Ross with seven seconds left in the first half. That gave the Hurricanes a 17-7 lead, which was ultimately the score going into the break.
Calhoun responded with a solid third quarter, as Jackets running back Jerrian Hames made his presence felt with a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 17-14. Hames had another good night, as he rushed for 117 yards on 22 carries and added the aforementioned score. Stephenson talked about Hames’ play on the night.
“He played well,” Stephenson said. “He’s been solid all year. We just sputtered on a few drives that we couldn’t quite convert on.”
After trading possessions without results, the Hurricanes capitalized on a Lewis’ interception with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Del Rio-Wilson to Jennings. What happened next was the nail in the Yellow Jacket’s coffin, as Calhoun was caught off guard by Cartersville’s sky kick, which the visitors recovered. Del Rio-Wilson took advantage of the short field and took it in himself from 12 yards out several plays later with 2:29 left in the game. That gave the Purple Hurricanes the 31-14 advantage, and that was the final score.
Calhoun will have to put this loss behind them, as they finished with Region 7-AAAAA’s third seed and will have to play the No. 2 seed from Region 6 in the first round of the GHSA State Playoffs on Nov. 27.