Class 3A Division I
State Semifinal

La Grange Leopards (13-0)

vs.

Carthage Bulldogs (13-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Vernon Newsom Stadium, Mansfield

 

Coaches
  • La Grange: Matt Kates
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces Kilgore (13-0) or Stephenville (13-1) in the 3A D-I state championship, noon Dec. 20, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

La Grange

  • OT Zach Ledwik, Sr., 6-4, 271 (committed to Texas A&M)
  • QB Dillon Davis, Sr. (90 of 138, 1,623 yards, 19 TDs, 1 INT; 98 carries, 624 yards, 13 TDs)
  • RB Rodney Filmore, Sr. (196 carries, 1,551 rushing yards, 20 TDs; 25 catches, 339 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB Bralon Hutchison, Jr. (86 carries, 1,053 rushing yards, 13 TDs)
  • WR Wes Scott, Sr. (27 catches, 498 yards, 11 TDs)
  • WR J.K. Dobbins, Fr. (11 catches, 281 yards, 4 TDs; 9 carries, 138 yards, 1 TD)

 

Carthage

  • QB Blake Bogenschutz, Sr., 6-1, 180 (committed to UTSA; 203 of 349, 3,410 yards, 49 TDs, 3 INTs; 77 carries, 332 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB Tevin Pipkin, Sr., 5-10, 165 (208 carries, 1,882 yards, 19 TDs; 16 catches, 203 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR/S Terian “Tee” Goree, Sr., 6-2, 170 (committed to North Texas; 75 catches, 1,512 yards, 25 TDs; 6 INTs)
  • WR O’Keeron Rutherford, Sr., 6-5, 181 (committed to North Texas; 56 catches, 856 yards, 14 TDs)
  • OT/DT Mario McCain, Sr., 6-0, 220 (107 tackles, 20 for loss, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 25 QB pressures)
  • OG Adrian Goodacre, Sr., 6-4, 318 (committed to ULL)
  • WR/CB Keldrean Strong, Sr., 6-0, 155 (17 catches, 279 yards, 2 TDs; 41 tackles, 3 INTs, 10 pass breakups)
  • TE/DE Jarrod McLin, Soph., 6-3, 220 (62 tackles, 8 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 20 QB pressures)
  • LB James Marshall, Sr., 6-0, 190 (114 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 sack, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • RB/S Bryian Bolton, Jr., 5-10, 170 (40 carries, 391 yards, 6 TDs; 59 tackles, 2 INTs)
  • TE Marquise Guinn, Soph., 6-4, 220 (24 catches, 304 yards, 3 TDs)
  • DT Javontay Brown, Sr., 5-9, 190 (75 tackles, 12 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery)
  • CB Trevor Cooper, Sr., 6-3, 180 (40 tackles, 3 INTs, 9 pass breakups)
  • LB Tra Leary, Sr., 5-9, 160 (97 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 4 fumble recoveries)
  • LB Christian Allison, Sr., 5-9, 170 (96 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries)

 

Just the facts
  • Carthage beat La Grange 27-14 in the 2009 Class 3A Division II state semifinals in Midlothian.
  • Gonzales held La Grange to 237 total yards in the Leopards' 21-8 win in last week's 3A D-I Region IV championship.
  • West Orange-Stark held Carthage to 318 total yards in the Bulldogs' 28-14 win in last week's 3A D-I Region III championship.
  • La Grange's victory over Gonzales was its second of the season against the Apaches, who fell 48-19 to La Grange in district play.
  • La Grange has allowed 112 points in its last nine games.
  • Carthage has allowed 88 points in its last nine games.
  • Carthage's first-team defense has allowed 14 total points since Nov. 1.
  • La Grange has outscored four playoff opponents 174-47.
  • Carthage has outscored four playoff opponents 170-40.
  • La Grange has held 8 of 13 opponents to 14 or fewer points.
  • Carthage has held 8 of 14 opponents to 14 or fewer points.
  • La Grange's 21 points vs. Gonzales are the fewest the Leopards have scored this season.
  • Carthage's 28 points vs. West Orange-Stark are the fewest the Bulldogs have scored this season.
  • Carthage QB Blake Bogenschutz has set virtually all Carthage passing records except completions (242) and single-season yards (3,860), both which Anthony Morgan set in 2010.
  • Carthage's Tevin Pipkin set the school's career rushing record in last week's win against West Orange-Stark. Needing 115 yards to tie Kris Briggs' school record of 5,130, Pipkin ran for 219 yards on 29 carries to give him 5,234 yards.
  • Carthage's Terian "Tee" Goree is 22 yards shy of Jalen Claiborne's single-season school record of 1,534 receiving yards set in 2010. Goree already owns the school single-season receiving touchdowns record at 25 and counting.

 

Key matchup: Carthage's front seven vs. La Grange's running game. Recent weeks have seen Carthage win for a couple of key reasons: The defense has stifled the Bulldogs' opponents, while the running game has produced when head coach Scott Surratt needed it most.

Carthage's Mario McCain runs drills during Tuesday's practice in the Bulldogs' indoor facility. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Carthage ran for more than 300 yards in the second-round rout of Navasota and easily eclipsed the 200-yard mark in wins against Silsbee and West Orange-Stark. No drive to date is as important as Carthage's 15-play, 93-yard, all-on-the-ground march that used almost 7 1/2 minutes to seal the Bulldogs' 14-point win vs. West Orange-Stark. That's the kind of running game Carthage has enjoyed this postseason, and one that will keep the Bulldogs dangerous, even in poor weather conditions.

But perhaps more than at any point in the playoffs, Carthage's running game may have met its match when it comes to the opponent's ground attack. La Grange has flourished out of the pistol formation, rushing for about 280 yards per game with running backs Rodney Filmore and Bralon Hutchison and quarterback Dillon Davis.

The Leopards' greatest strength could be a big, physical offense line led by Texas A&M-bound senior Zach Ledwik. He spearheads a unit that faces a small, but athletic Carthage defensive front, which has gotten big performances lately from veteran Mario McCain, rising sophomore end Jarrod McLin, and an undersized but aggressive linebacking corps.

While Gonzales slowed down La Grange enough to keep the game in doubt until the final minutes, the Leopards still managed almost 200 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry. Carthage has allowed only 92.5 rushing yards per game in the postseason. The Bulldogs need another strong performance in the box if they hope to reach their fourth state championship game in six years.

Don't be surprised if: The team that runs the ball more successfully gets a shot next week at the 3A D-I state championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Weather has dictated that Carthage run the ball in two of its last three games. The Bulldogs, who pride themselves on their balance and ability to run and throw equally well, would love to get the opportunity to throw the ball more than they got against West Orange-Stark, which combined with a vicious north wind to hold Carthage to 6-for-15 passing, including 0-for-3 second-half passing.

La Grange has the capability to throw the ball, but much prefers to run. In fact, 69 percent of the Leopards' offensive production has come on the ground. La Grange averages 30.7 rushing attempts to 10 passing attempts per game. For comparison, Carthage averages 32.7 rushes and 27.1 throws.

Carthage's Blake Bogenschutz fires a pass during the Bulldogs' 49-6 third-round rout of Silsbee in Beaumont. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

The team that runs the ball better doesn't necessarily mean the team that gains more yards on the ground. La Grange's dedication to the run might produce more yards, but Carthage's balance -- and subsequent timing in the ground game -- be the difference.

The bottom line is two of 3A's best offensive lines, if not the best, will be on the field trying to open holes for these teams. Carthage must win at the point of attack to reach the state championship. The same goes for La Grange. The Leopards cannot allow Carthage quarterback Blake Bogenschutz to get comfortable in the pocket, especially if there is minimal wind and less chance of weather factors impacting the Bulldogs' passing game as it has experienced in recent weeks.

Carthage is considered the favorite in this game, but the Dawgs must keep La Grange from dictating the pace of the game with its ground attack. The small but fast Carthage defense must continue to play bigger than it is and get third-down stops to put its offense back on the field.

At this point, nobody remaining is a pretender. Every team left is capable of winning a state championship. The team that imposes its will takes another step at realizing that goal.