Carthage Tops Kilgore In Championship Rematch
CARTHAGE -- Kilgore missed its opportunity for revenge against Carthage in a 21-7 loss Friday.
Kilgore and Carthage met for the first time since Carthage defeated Kilgore in the UIL Class 3A Division I state championship at AT&T Stadium in December. Carthage, with only one win this season prior to the game, overcame two turnovers in its victory.
And Kilgore's heartache was not limited to the scoreboard. Quarterback Xavier Gaona was injured and joined starting offensive linemen Blake Guthrie and Jackson Hatcher on the disabled list. Backup quarterback Jacob Goode had been injured during the week, so senior receiver and defensive back William Colbert stepped in for the second half.
Kilgore's offense wasn't ineffective, but the Bulldogs' running game -- normally the strength of the team -- was. Carthage held an off-balance Kilgore to just 30 rushing yards in the contest.
Carthage got on the board first when quarterback Jarod Blissett sneaked in on a one-yard run. That capped an 83-yard drive.
Despite a pair of completions from Gaona to receiver Trey Tinney and Jarod Wood on Kilgore's first drive, the offense eventually stalled and had to punt.
Carthage put together another drive, this one beginning at the Carthage 38-yard line, and scored on the first play of the second quarter. Blissett passed to Leonard Maxwell for the 29-yard score, and the extra point by Rafael Hernandez gave Carthage a 14-0 edge.
Kilgore again was forced to punt on its next possession, after a sack by Jarod McLin put them in a hole, but Kilgore's defense rose to the occasion. Linebacker Mason Shelton, a junior, stepped in front of a Blissett pass on second down and intercepted it, giving Kilgore the ball at Carthage's 36. Kilgore scored in two plays -- a flea-flicker from Gaona to Tinney set Kilgore up with a first-and-goal at Carthage's 7. Gaona passed to Wood on the next play for the touchdown and 14-7 deficit.
The rest of the first half was defensively-dominated. Gaona suffered his injury late in the half, and the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on a Carthage fumble. Carthage shot itself in the foot, too, a missed 21-yard field goal shortly before the half that would have given them a 10-point lead.
Gaona didn't return to the field in the second half, and Colbert came in under center. Even with a six-yard pass to Tinney on third down, Kilgore was forced to punt.
Carthage was unable to sustain a drive its next drive, but caught a break when its punt ricocheted off Colbert, serving as the returner. Carthage recovered inside Kilgore's 40.
Kilgore's defensive unit came through. It managed to get Carthage into a fourth-and-inches situation and then got to Ravodney Hardy for a two-yard loss.
Kilgore got the ball back, but couldn't pick up a first down. Carthage got an insurance touchdown, one scored by Hardy on a three-yard run with just under 11 minutes left in the game.
Blissett completed 13 of 20 passes for 177 yards, the touchdown to Maxwell, and the interception by Shelton. Hardy had 30 carries for 166 yards and the fourth-quarter score.
Gaona was six of nine for 79 yards for Kilgore before leaving the game. Tinney caught five passes for 55 yards and Wood had two receptions for 21 yards. Nick Orange caught two balls for 19 yards. Jaquorious Smith led Kilgore with 19 rushing yards.