Carthage Running Back Tevin Pipkin Finishes Off Historic Career By Carrying Bulldogs to the Finish Line
ARLINGTON -- In the moments after Carthage's 34-23 win over Kilgore on Friday that clinched its fourth state title in six years, senior running back Tevin Pipkin wasn't going to let go of the state-championship trophy.
Even during postgame interviews.
After his performance in the second half, which included the game-sealing 24-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds remaining, he had earned the right to hold it as long as he wanted.
Pipkin rushed for 118 yards and added a 49-yard reception to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by senior receiver Terian "Tee" Goree, which gave Carthage a seemingly comfortable 28-10 lead with 4:23 remaining in the third quarter. But after Kilgore fought back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns that cut the deficit to 28-23 with 3:40 to go, it was up to Pipkin to finish things off.
"I just told my coaches to give me the ball and have faith in me to follow my blocks from my linemen, and get the job done," Pipkin said.
Pipkin rushed for 19 yards to the Kilgore 33 after quarterback Blake Bogenschutz recovered Kilgore's onside-kick attempt at his own 48. And then on third-and-1, Pipkin took the loss left, found daylight and coasted into the end zone to officially put the game on ice.
"He only weights about 165 pounds, but you saw how physical he is," Carthage coach Scott Surratt said. "What a great game ... to end the game for us."
Pipkin ended his three-year varsity career with 5,465 yards after finishing with 2,113 in 2013. He broke legendary Carthage running back Kris Briggs' all-time record of 5,130 during the Bulldogs' 28-14 regional-final victory over West Orange-Stark two weeks earlier.
And now with a state championship to end his career, his name can certainly stand next to school legends like Briggs, Dwight Smith, Johnnie Balous, Jamon Edwards and Roscoe Tatum -- a Carthage running back legacy that can be matched by very few in East Texas.
"As far as setting the record being behind all those great running backs in Carthage and being on top of the list above all of those, I'll probably look back one of these days be like 'man,' when I'm older," Pipkin said. "But right now, we're state champs."
Pipkin and Bogenschutz formed quite the one-two rushing punch for Carthage as both finished with more than 100 yards for the game.
"We came into the game and knew they were probably going to double (Goree) or double (receiver O'Keeron Rutherford) and try to stop the pass," Pipkin said. "We just knew that we had to run the ball and our O-line just knew they had to open the holes for me, and that's what they did."
Surratt, an offensive-minded head coach, credited offensive coordinator Chris Smith for pushing the right buttons.
"You can't plug (Chris Smith), our offensive coordinator enough," he said. "He called the last play (Pipkin's 24-yard touchdowns run) and he called all the runs. He did a phenomenal job, but it takes these guys right here, it takes all these offensive linemen. It's a total team effort."
Pipkin wasn't shy about showing love to the big men up front, either.
"My O-line is really big," he said. "And in practice if they mess up I get onto them and they get onto me if I make a wrong cut or anything. But we all just came together and it led to open holes for me."
The Carthage running back even had a hand in Goree's 10-yard scoring run on an end-around late in the third, which opened up the 18-point lead.
"When he runs the ball, I block for him," Goree said of Pipkin. "So when I got the ball he was blocking for me. I just followed my blocking and took it to the end zone."
Pipkin, along with Bogenschutz, helped Carthage outrush Kilgore 264-251 for the game. The rushing yards allowed by Kilgore were 180.5 above its season average.
"We knew they were going to try to stop the run game," Pipkin said. "But our offense is pretty balanced. With our offense, we knew we could pound them and keep it moving."