Facing third-and-goal from the 10-yardline, BT head coach Tim McFarlin sent the field goal team onto the field to run what he hoped to be a game-winning fake field goal, but Nathan Etheridge’s pass fell into the arms of a Cartersville (12-0 overall) defender and the Purple Hurricanes moved on to the AAA state quarterfinals.
“Our attitude was to go in there and win the ball game. We took a shot at winning the game and it didn’t work out,” said the Blessed Trinity (9-3) coach. “I feel terrible that it didn’t and there are a lot of ‘what-ifs’ to think about, but those are on me. I was going for the win and I made the call.
“If we didn’t get it we thought we could come back and kick the field goal on fourth down, but their kid made a great play and you have to give him credit.”
The final play of the game finished off what was a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
Quarterback Spencer McManes, who threw for 302 yards and ran for 81, gave BT a 21-17 lead with a 1-yard quarterback sneak with five minutes to play in the contest. But Cartersville quarterback Brooks Barden matched McManes with a late drive of his own, leading the Purple Hurricanes the length of the field — and converting two fourth downs along the way — to give Cartersville a 24-21 lead with just over two minutes to play.
McManes marched the Titans right towards the end zone before the final interception — which was the sixth turnover of the game for BT.
“It was two really good teams going at it and our kids played extremely hard. To turn it over that many times and still be in it says a lot about what kind of team we had and honestly, I felt we were the better group that night.”
The loss ended BT’s season in round two of the playoffs for a second consecutive season, though this year’s result was much closer that 2011’s 28-14 loss to Lamar County.
In the first round the Titans posted the second playoff victory in school history with a win against White County (35-14) and notched a new school-record for wins in the season with 9.
“This is the level we expect to have BT football at every year and hopefully we can move beyond the Sweet 16 soon. We were close this year to doing it and I think we can be a program that plays in the Elite Eight and Final Four in the future,” said McFarlin.