GILMER--Carthage proved in one half it was the No. 1 4A team in Texas.

The Bulldogs’ defense dominated No. 2 Gilmer in a 48-28 victory Saturday. Despite going into halftime down 28-13, Carthage was undeterred. It forced three turnovers, held Gilmer scoreless and scored back-to-back defensive touchdowns in the second half to take a lead and put the game out of reach.

Carthage coach Scott Surratt said he couldn’t be more pleased.

“The halftime adjustments were great,” he said. “We started to play more man and put some heat on (Poppy Brown). They didn’t know whether we was coming or not. The kids played unbelievably hard.”

The onslaught started with a Mekhi Colbert interception. Desmund Hicks got pressure on Brown, who was hit as he threw. The ball floated into Colbert’s waiting hands. The interception set up the first touchdown of the half, a run from Keaontay Ingram.

As the Carthage (4-0) players jumped joyously and the students got louder, there was a sense the game had changed, even though the Bulldogs were still down 28-21.

“The momentum really shifted (at that moment) on offense and defense,” Colbert said. “We just kept it going.”

Colbert also had an interception in the first half and scored a rushing touchdown to tie the game in the second. His teammates and coaches said his impact on the game Saturday was huge.

“He’s a game-changer on defense, he can play it all — corner and safety,” linebacker Ahmad Brown said. “He makes big plays all around the field. It just comes natural to him.”

Gilmer (3-1) couldn’t catch a break. After the Colbert touchdown, the Buckeyes took over, only to promptly throw an interception to Montario Wilson, who ran to the end zone to give the Bulldogs their first lead in a while.

Carthage's Montario Wilson returns an interceptions 41 yards for a touchdown during the Bulldogs' 48-28 win at Gilmer on Saturday night. (© ETSN.fm)

Shortly after, Jacorey Ware recovered a fumble and scored to make it 41-28. The Gilmer offense trudged back onto the field, but the Buckeyes were already defeated. The pressure Ahmad Brown – who finished with two tackles for loss – and the Bulldog defense put on Poppy Brown forced him into bad decisions.

“(Brown) likes to sit in the pocket until somebody comes open,” Ahmad Brown said. “And we had to find some way to stop it. We had to get pressure on him with linebacker blitzes, we had to rush him with the defensive line.”

In all, Carthage forced four turnovers in the game and held Gilmer to only 50 yards in the second half.

The Bulldogs have a bye week before taking on Henderson on Oct. 6. Colbert said he is hopeful the momentum from a big win such as this one will carry over for the defense.

“It’s gonna be really big going on to the next game,” he said. “(Gilmer) is a really tough place to play, and I’m glad we got the win.”