LUFKIN -- No. 9 Carthage built a 17-point third-quarter lead, but needed a late fourth-quarter stop and a final first down to hold off Palestine.

Carthage senior linebacker D.K. Calloway's third-down sack led to Palestine coming two yards shy of a first down on the next play, and the Bulldogs survived a serious first-round upset bid in a 30-27 victory against the Wildcats in Friday's Class 3A Division I Region III bi-district playoff at Abe Martin Stadium.

 

Carthage (9-2) plays Taylor (5-6) in a 3A Division I Region III semifinal at Corsicana's Tiger Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Carthage led 23-6 in the second quarter and 30-13 in the third, but suffered a fumble on a quarterback sneak inside the Palestine 1-yard line and an interception in the end zone that prevented the Bulldogs from putting the Wildcats away. Palestine (7-4) got a 42-yard touchdown pass from Gee Clark to Paul Barksdale to cut Carthage's lead to 30-20 entering the fourth, then got the end-zone interception to set up an 80-yard drive capped by Clark's 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Anthony with 4:13 remaining that cut the gap to three, 30-27.

Carthage fumbled the snap on the ensuing possesion's first down, and Palestine took over at the Bulldog 39-yard line. But Carthage made a stand, getting a 14-yard, third-and-5 loss thanks to Calloway's sack and stopping Jadarius Beasley two yards shy of a first down on fourth-and-19 to preserve the 30-27 lead.

Carthage QB Blake Bogenschutz got a first down on a two-yard keeper on the next possession to enable the Dawgs to run out the clock.

Bogenschutz was 12 of 24 for 138 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Kolby Blissett and Tee Goree each caught a touchdown pass, while defensive tackle-turned-fullback Isaiah Golden ran for a seven-yard third-quarter touchdown for Carthage's 30-13 advantage. Tailback Tevin Pipkin ran for a game-high 172 yards on 29 carries.

Clark completed 16 of 23 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Barksdale caught five passes for a game-high 75 yards.

Carthage's Davodney Brooks recovered a Palestine fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 first-quarter lead. The Bulldogs led 16-0 in the second before a bad punt snap set up Palestine's first touchdown, a one-yard Jarrell Owens run that cut the lead to 16-6.