Carthage Dominates Defending 3A D-II Champion Navasota, 44-14
CORSICANA -- Friday night's Class 3A Division I Region III area playoff between perennial powers Carthage and Navasota was billed as perhaps the state's biggest second-round matchup, regardless of classification.
Carthage's performance might have put the state on notice.
A relentless rushing attack combined with a defense that allowed barely 200 total yards in the game's first 46 minutes to fuel the Bulldogs' 44-14 domination of the defending 3A Division II state champion Rattlers at Corsicana's Tiger Stadium.
Carthage (11-1) faces Silsbee (10-2) at 4 p.m. Friday at Lamar University's Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont in a 3A D-I Region III semifinal. The game is a rematch of last year's Region III championship, which Carthage won 50-21 in Lufkin.
Behind an all-senior offensive line that won the point of attack from start to finish against a Navasota defensive front featuring senior star Jordan Wells, who entered the game with 40 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, Carthage cranked out 338 yards on 55 rushing attempts to outgain Navasota 521-292. Ninety of the Rattlers' yards came in the final minute and a half, when the Navasota reserves drove to score with no time remaining after Carthage gained a 44-7 lead less than halfway through the fourth.
Carthage senior tailback Tevin Pipkin ran 25 times for 169 yards and a touchdown, while senior quarterback Blake Bogenschutz, known best for his throwing ability, ran 12 times for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Carthage had two 14-play touchdown drives, a 15-play drive that ended in a field goal, and five scoring drives that covered at least 66 yards, including four touchdown drives of at least 75 yards. The Bulldogs had possession of the ball for about two-thirds of the game.
Carthage's veteran offensive front kept Wells out of the backfield. The 6-foot, 277-pound senior had 107 tackles for loss and 27 sacks in his last 27 games, but was quiet Friday night. Senior teammate Anthony Small was in on two tackles for loss early, but the Dawgs, who had four negative plays in their first 29 snaps, had no negative plays in their final 42 snaps. Carthage converted six of its first nine third-down situations, plus fourth-and-4 at the Rattler 43 to keep alive a 15-play, 66-yard drive that ended in Jimmy Gonzalez' second-quarter 24-yard field goal and a 10-7 edge.
The 37-degree weather, constant drizzle, and stiff north wind made passing difficult, but the UTSA-bound Bogenschutz completed 8 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, a 97-yarder to senior Terian "Tee" Goree for a 17-7 advantage with 3:50 left in the first half.
"The weather dictated that we weren't as open (offensively) as we wanted to be, but you can't say enough about our offensive staff. (Offensive coordinator Chris) Smith did a great job calling, and also our defensive staff. (Defensive coordinator Darren) Preston and his staff did a great job," said Carthage head coach Scott Surratt. "After the first drive, we had to simulate the speed of (Derrion Randle) and their offense, and we though we had some advantages, and we shut them out the rest of the time with our 1's."
Goree's huge play came on second-and-23 after a high snap and false start pushed the Bulldogs to their own 3-yard line, where Bogenschutz hit Goree down the left seam near the 25. Goree juked two defenders, bounced outside the numbers down the sideline, and separated from Navasota's athletic secondary for the highlight-reel touchdown.
Navasota (10-2) never recovered.
A holding penalty and Carthage sophomore defensive end Jarrod McLin's second sack of the first half preceded senior two-way standout Mario McCain's blocked punt, which gave Carthage the ball at the Navasota 25-yard line. Three plays later, Bogenschutz scored from 12 yards for a 24-7 lead with 1:14 before halftime.
After a promising opening drive saw junior Derrion Randle run three times for 73 yards to tie Carthage 7-7, Navasota could do almost nothing with the Bulldog defense, which held the Rattlers to 129 yards on their next five possessions. With second-string quarterback Davon Jernigan in the game, Navasota drove to start the second half, but stalled in Carthage's red zone, where Goree and senior Javontay Brown combined for a sack before junior Bryian Bolton picked off starting quarterback Shelton Eppler in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the 13-yard line.
Carthage then took complete control of the game.
The Bulldogs drove 80 yards in 14 plays -- 11 rushes for 67 yards -- capped by Bogenschutz' one-yard sneak for a commanding 31-7 lead with 1:27 left in the third.
Navasota then went three-and-out and the rout was on. Pipkin gained 17 on a pass, then ran for 12 and 20 yards to set up his four-yard touchdown as Carthage led 37-7 two minutes into the fourth.
Another Rattler three-and-out led to a six-play, 80-yard Carthage drive. Pipkin gained 18 and Bolton ran for 41 before junior Tredarion Jackson scored from seven yards four plays later for a 37-point lead with 7:12 to play. Carthage then recovered a muffed pooch kick and drained more than five minutes off the clock before turning over the ball on downs at the Navasota 10-yard line with about a minute and a half left, setting up Navasota's game-ending touchdown drive.
"Probably total effort," Surratt said when asked if Friday's performance was his team's best this season. "We were great in the kicking game, we were great on offense, and we were great on defense. That's a pretty good combination."
Goree caught three passes for 121 yards. His touchdown was his East Texas-leading 23rd of the season. Bolton ran four times for 55 yards, while Jackson added 35 yards on nine carries.
Randle's fast start on Navasota's opening possession was his only impact of the game. He finished with 109 yards on 11 carries, but had a lone two-yard carry after halftime, when Carthage's lead grew thanks to its clock-controlling ground game. That forced the Rattlers to throw in the less-than-ideal weather conditions.
Eppler, a sophomore, completed 12 of 20 passes for 68 yards, one score, and an interception. Jernigan's only action came on the second half's opening possession, when he went 4-for-5 for 44 yards.
Carthage's win snapped Navasota's seven-game playoff winning streak dating to last season's 16-0 D-II state championship run, which the Rattlers capped with an eye-opening 39-3 win against Gilmer.
Carthage is now 7-0 at Tiger Stadium since 2008. Seventh-year head coach Scott Surratt carries a 26-3 playoff record to next week's game in Beaumount.
Class 3A Division I Region III
Carthage 44, Navasota 14
Tiger Stadium, Corsicana
Carthage -- 7 17 7 13 -- 44
Navasota -- 7 0 0 7 -- 14
CAR -- Blake Bogenschutz 2 run (Jimmy Gonzalez kick) -- 5:59
NAV -- Derrion Randle 46 run (Ryan Perry kick) -- 5:03
CAR -- Gonzalez 24 field goal -- 10:02
CAR -- Terian "Tee" Goree 97 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 3:50
CAR -- Bogenschutz 12 run (Gonzalez kick) -- 1:14
CAR -- Bogenschutz 1 run (Gonzalez kick) -- 1:27
CAR -- Tevin Pipkin 4 run (kick failed) -- 10:55
CAR -- Tredarion Jackson 7 run (Gonzalez kick) -- 7:12
NAV -- Hunter Sparkman 22 pass from Shelton Eppler (Perry kick) -- 0:00
First downs 19 10
Total yards 521 292
Rushes-Yards 55-338 25-180
Pass yards 183 112
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-16-0 12-20-1
Penalties-Yards 3-12 3-20
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-0
Punts-Avg. 0-0 5-30.4
RUSHING -- Carthage: Tevin Pipkin 25-169, Blake Bogenschutz 12-71, Bryian Bolton 4-55, Tredarion Jackson 9-35, Terian "Tee" Goree 3-17, Jarod Blissett 1-2, TEAM 1-(-11). Navasota: Derrion Randle 11-109, Joseph Herrera 5-60, Davon Jernigan 3-11, Jerbrell Lipscomb 1-4, Shelton Eppler 5-(-4).
PASSING -- Carthage: Blake Bogenschutz 8-16-0 183. Navasota: Shelton Eppler 12-20-1 68, Davon Jernigan 4-5-0 44.
RECEIVING -- Carthage: Terian "Tee" Goree 3-121, Tevin Pipkin 2-23, Jakeldrick Jackson 1-18, Jarrod McLin 1-13, Keldrean Strong 1-8. Navasota: Tren'Davion Dickson 3-18, Deiontte Taylor 2-34, Hunter Sparkman 2-30, Jerbrell Lipscomb 2-10, Derrion Randle 1-14, Nick Gurka 1-8, Willie Creeks 1-0.