Tigers put up 480 yards of offense in victory
By DAVID MITCHELL
Earlier this week, Carver coach Dell McGee said he'd need a strong performance from his offense to offset the Rockmart attack.
Turns out, he got dominating performances from both sides of the ball.
Carver (11-1) rolled up 480 yards, 334 on the ground and forced three turnovers en route to a 45-16 win on Friday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers advance to the Class AAA quarterfinals, where they will host Buford in a rematch of last year's state semifinals. Rockmart's (6-6) ends a season in which it advanced to the second round for the first time in 24 years.
McGee is already aware of the task that awaits his team next week.
"We're not really looking at it (as a chance for redemption)," he said. "I just know Buford is a great team. The bar they've set with four titles in five years is just remarkable. It's going to be a tough game."
The Rockmart offensive attack had worried McGee coming into the game, especially with a handful of injuries on the Tigers defense, but Carver caught a break early when it forced and recovered a fumble on the second play of the game, setting a pace that the Yellow Jackets simply could not keep up with.
After the fumble, the Ti
gers went 44 yards on eight plays, culminating in a 2-yard run by quarterback Torrance McGee to take a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
Following a three-and-out on the ensuing Rockmart possession, Carver again marched down the field, this time 68 yards in four minutes. Again, it was Torrance McGee who punched the ball in from short distance.
An interception by Carver's Gerald Williams on a tipped pass on the fourth play of the Yellow Jackets' next drive again set the Tigers up. On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Torrance McGee connected with running back Mario Moore on a 30-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first quarter. Moore caught the pass on a short screen, the danced through traffic and exploded through the secondary, dragging two defenders with him as he dove into the end zone.
In all, Carver scored on its first five possessions and on seven of 11 overall. Rockmart fell behind 33-0 when Carver scored on a 2-yard run by Noah Hickey and a 58-yard pass from Torrance McGee to Marqui Hawkins before finally getting on the board on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Julian Welch to Kwame Peek.
"We knew we had to help the defense this week," said Torrance McGee, who finished 8 of 9 passing for 146 yards and two touchdown passes to go with the two he scored on the ground. "At the beginning of the week, Coach was stressing how important that was for us."
Also important, coach McGee said, was protecting the football, something it didn't do as well last week.
"We didn't turn the ball over, which was great," he said. "And our offensive line opened some big holes in the running game."
The latter helped in the second half, when Hickey and running back Brandon Thomas had touchdown runs of 30 and 52 yards, respectively. Hickey finished with 53 yards and two scores, while Thomas had 91 and a touchdown. Danny Ryles led the team in rushing yards with 96.
The team did suffer an injury to offensive lineman Branden Smith, who left the game late in the first quarter. McGee said he wasn't sure of the extent of the injury, but he hopes he'll have him back next week.
"It's the time of the year, when you just hope you can ice him up and get him back out there," he said. "Everyone's banged up."
Rockmart got its final score on a 12-yard run by Jermonte Thompson with under two minutes remaining in the game.
Yellow Jackets coach Dan Duff, a Carver graduate, made his first trip back to Memorial Stadium as a coach. Despite the loss, it was a welcome homecoming for him, and he had a message for his alma mater.
Thats a good team, he said of Carver. Our kids played hard, but you cant turn the ball over against a good team.
This is my only time back, and it was great. I told Carver after the game: Im Carver through and through. Im proud of them, and I hope they can keep doing well.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571
Friday at Memorial Stadium
Rockmart 0 8 0 8--16
Carver 20 13 12 0--45
C--McGee 2 run (Lewis kick); 8:47
C--McGee 1 run (kick failed); 3:07
C--Moore 30 pass from McGee (Lewis kick); :00
C--Hickey 1 run (Lewis kick); 7:41
C--Hawkins 58 pass from McGee (kick failed); 3:53
R--Peek 49 pass from Welch (2-point good); 1:45
C--Hickey 30 run (kick failed); 6:28
C--Thomas 52 run (kick blocked); 3:01
R--Thompson 12 run (2-point good); 1:55
Records: Rockmart, 6-6; Carver, 11-1. Next: Rockmart, season over; Carver, Friday vs. Buford in Class AAA quarterfinals