PITTSBURG -- The defending state champions played for a 7-7 exhibition scrimmage tie against Pittsburg under the lights at Pirate Stadium on Friday.

It was a grind-it-out setting between two teams attacking Class 4A Division I from different directions.

Carthage and the Pirates could not be much more opposite halfway through camp. Pittsburg has man power in the form of 17 returning starters hoping to improve on last year's 5-7 record and area championship appearance while the greener Bulldogs own a first-hand look of what it takes to be the best team in the state.

"They're going in the right direction," Carthage head coach Scott Surratt said of Pittsburg. "There's no question. They've got some good athletes and (Pirates head coach Dickey Meeks) gets it turned around wherever he goes. They looked good tonight."

Quarterback Jarod Blissett connected with Kriston Ingram for a 27-yard touchdown in the scrimmage against Pittsburg. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Both sides played very well defensively. There was no scoring through the first period of a 24-minute simulation of real football game with exception to kickoffs.

Carthage dug into its tradition of discipline and problem solving. Pittsburg dealt with adversity on the run.

The Pirates committed four offensive penalties in 24 minutes. Surratt's squad gave up five yards through the same time span on a delay of game call.

"We played pretty well," Meeks said. "Little things. Penalties. I think we had six and they had one in the half. Those are the kinds of things we've got to do better with."

Carthage's issue was timing on its passing plays. Quarterback Jardon Blissett was 1-for-9 with 12 yards at one point.

The simulation opened up late as the two teams settled in.

Blissett connected with Kriston Ingram for a 38-yard pass on a third-and-seven from his own 42-yard line.

Blissett then hit Ingram four plays later for a 27-yard touchdown midway through the final quarter. It capped off a 70-yard drive with 51 yards coming through the air.

The junior signal caller bounced back from the slow start to account for 113 yards of the Bulldogs' 130 total yards in the timed period. He was ill through most of the early part of camp and returned to practice this week.

"I was a little nervous starting out, but once I got a few plays in me I settled down," Blissett said. "We got a little rhythm going. We got a little better today."

Given the ball at its own 30-yard line after the Bulldogs' touchdown, Pirates running back Fre'Zarrian Harrison accounted for 40 yards on the ensuing drive, including the game-tying 29-yard score.

"Z. starts at linebacker for us and will be used in certain roles for us offensively," Meeks said. "He looked really good tonight. He's very strong and has good speed. I really thought we had some other backs do well, too."

Pittsburg quarterback Billy Kimble split time and completed 3-of-6 passes for nine yards. The running game produced 77 yards while the all-encompassing offensive unit racked up 106 yards in the 24-minute period.

The Pirates topped Carthage, 12-0, through a controlled portion of the scrimmage. The teams alternated 10 consecutive plays on one side of the ball and rotated backups into the starting lineup.

Kimble was 4-for-7 with 72 yards and an interception through the sequence. The Pirates' two touchdowns came on the ground on the way to 154 total yards. No PATs were attempted during the controlled scrimmage.

Blissett went 3-for-5 with 40 yards, and the running game amassed 66 yards.

Carthage's offense picked up 146 yards as a whole with backup quarterbacks getting some live reps.

"I thought, defensively, we controlled most of the game," Surratt said. "Offensively, we've got to get better. We knew that we were going to be behind with losing all our starters, but I'm excited about how it went for their first time."

The Pirates walked away equally satisfied.

"They had a lot of people to replace, but one thing about Carthage is they've had to do that for a while," Meeks said. "Coach Surratt has been around for eight years, so it's not a rebuild like everybody else's. They play well all the way through it.

"We played pretty well against them. I liked the effort."

Kriston Ingram picked up 64 yards through the air in a 24-minute live scrimmage against Pittsburg (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)