CARTERSVILLE -- West Hall was six inches from pulling off the biggest upset of the season in Georgia Friday night.
Brad Hodgson's 39-yard field attempt as time expired sailed just wide left in windy conditions and preserved a 28-26 victory for Cartersville over the Spartans in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.
West Hall coach Tony Lotti was more than pleased with his team's showing against the No. 2-ranked Purple Hurricanes.
"We played our tails off and can't say enough about how proud I am off their effort," Lotti said. "I'm heartbroken for them because we were so close and really should have won the game. We were inches from shocking the entire state."
The Spartans (6-5) were making their first playoff appearance in more than a decade and made the most of the opportunity. They led most of the first half.
West Hall took the opening lead 6-0 with a 22-yard TD pass from Zach English to Hunter Atkinson midway through the first quarter. Cartersville would take a 7-6 lead on a 67-yard touchdown run by Tiamon Pennymon but the Spartans answered right back with an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Ty Statham for a 13-7 lead.
Pennymon would add a 15-yard TD run a minute later to give the Purple Hurricanes (11-0) a 14-13 lead. West Hall would take a 20-14 in to halftime on a 99-yard touchdown pass from English to Kwan Williams.
Cartersville looked to gain control of the game early in the third quarter on a pair of touchdowns in the first four minutes to grab a 28-20 lead. But West Hall did not go away.
The Spartans closed the gap to 28-26 on an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown from Statham but the two-point conversion to tie the game failed.
It stayed that way until late in the fourth quarter when West Hall had two chances to take the lead. The Spartans would fail on a 35-yard field goal attempt on a bad snap and then on Hodgson's last-second chance that was pushed wide by a strong wind.
"It looked good when it left his foot but the wind was blowing pretty good. One yard closer and we win the game," Lotti said.
Anthony Pittman led the Spartans on the ground with 87 yards rushing on 22 carries. English finished 10-of-14 for 201 yards passing and two touchdowns and Atkinson had eight catches for 94 yards and one score.