By Dave Gordon
Given a choice, Cartersville is not the team North Murray High School head football coach David Gann would have selected to begin his team’s Region 5-3A schedule.
However, the Mountaineers played the hand they were dealt and had some good moments, but not enough in a 55-15 loss at Cartersville on Friday night.
“We had some ups and downs,” Gann said. “We had a couple of good drives, but they are a great football team. They’re as good as we’ll ever see.”
Third-ranked Cartersville (4-0) jumped out to an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter. However, a 21-play drive by the Mountaineers in the second quarter that used over nine minutes of the game clock provided some momentum. The drive was capped by a fourth-down touchdown pass from Hinton McConkey to Michael Loughridge to make the score 13-7.
After a sack on the first play of Cartersville’s ensuing drive by Jonathon Cain, the game appeared to be taking a turn in North Murray’s favor.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Cartersville would put a drive together and score with just under a minute remaining in the half to make the score 20-7 in favor of the Purple Hurricanes, who tacked on another touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone.
Five delay of game penalties in the first half hurt the Mountaineers. Gann’s team had 14 penalties.
“We had a lot of young mistakes,” Gann said. “We’re a young football team and when you play someone who is that good, you can’t afford to make those mistakes.”
Coming from behind, North Murray looked to pass the ball in the second half and did so effectively as McConkey completed 5 of 9 passes for 73 yards in the half. McConkey’s completions included a 28-yard gain to Leonardo Lechuga. Payton Swilling was North Murray’s leading receiver with three catches for 53 yards and a two-point conversion reception late in the game.
John Chastain scored the rushing touchdown before the conversion from three yards out.
“I was proud of our kids for the spots that we had tonight,” Gann said. “We had some mistakes, but (Cartersville) lined up and whipped us, as well.”
North Murray will move on to play its homecoming game next Friday against Sonoraville.