Clutch Drive + Seven Takeaways Send Carthage to Final Four with 28-14 Win vs. West Orange-Stark
BEAUMONT -- With the wind howling in its face, the momentum riding with the opponent, and its season on the line, Carthage assembled its own version of "The Drive."
A senior-laden Carthage offense converted two fourth downs on a 15-play, 93-yard drive that used 7 minutes, 19 seconds of game clock and ended in Tevin Pipkin's two-yard touchdown run with 1:34 remaining to seal a 28-14 Class 3A Division I Region III championship win against West Orange-Stark.
Carthage senior Terian "Tee" Goree killed West Orange-Stark's would-be go-ahead scoring drive when he picked off his second pass in the end zone with less than nine minutes remaining to preserve a 20-14 Carthage lead. He returned the ball to his own 7-yard line, and five plays later Carthage faced fourth-and-11 in a relentless north wind from its own 18-yard line.
Third-year starting quarterback Blake Bogenschutz dropped back in shotgun formation, sensed edge pressure from his blind side, stepped up in the pocket, saw linebackers with their backs turned running with Pipkin out of the backfield up the seam, and tucked to run as a crease opened before him.
Sixteen yards later, Bogenschutz slid at the 34-yard line to convert an enormous and improbable fourth-and-long.
"It was like a God thing," said Bogenschutz, who accounted for 119 total yards and one touchdown pass. "It was like the sea parted."
Pipkin, who had 219 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries on a history-making night for the senior tailback, ran for 7, 6, 12, and 5 on the next four plays to put Carthage in West Orange-Stark territory. Carthage converted another fourth down -- this time needing inches -- when four-year varsity lineman Mario McCain took a fullback handoff and barreled forward for a first down at the West Orange-Stark 31-yard line.
Pipkin then sprinted 26 yards to the 5-yard line and gave the Bulldogs a two-score lead two plays later. Bogenschutz found senior O'Keeron Rutherford for a two-point pass and 28-14 advantage with 94 seconds to play.
The entire drive came on the ground.
"We got in the huddle and got amped up," said Carthage head coach Scott Surratt of his team's approach to the game-clinching drive. "'You guys consider yourself the best offense in the state, then we've gotta take it through the teeth of the wind and we've gotta go score and win it. The defense has played great and we've let them down a little bit, so we've gotta go do it,' and we got it done."
The wind affected both teams. A microcosm of its influence was Carthage senior Jimmy Gonzalez' punting log: 68 yards, one yard, 58 yards. West Orange-Stark had two 12-yard punts and a 59-yard punt. The win made throwing the ball extremely difficult, as evidenced by Carthage's 0-for-3 second-half passing. Combined with Carthage's stellar defensive performance, it chased West Orange-Stark sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole, who started 6-for-17 with 83 yards and three interceptions before junior Chase Rutledge replaced him early in the third quarter. Rutledge was 8-for-14 for 131 yards and an interception, along with 40 yards on 14 carries.
Carthage's defense, which yielded a lone touchdown drive and held the Mustangs to 253 total yards, forced its seventh and final turnover when sophomore defensive end Jarrod McLin stripped Rutledge near midfield, where senior Christian Allison recovered to allow the Dawgs to run out the clock.
Carthage, which rides a nine-game winning streak into next week, faces La Grange (13-0) in a 3A D-I state semifinal at a site and time to be determined. The game marks the fifth state semifinal trip for the Bulldogs in seven years under Surratt, who is 28-3 in the playoffs since arriving in 2007.
Carthage opponents have scored 40 points in four playoff games, only 14 of which have come against the Bulldogs' first-team defense. Carthage has allowed 88 points during its nine-game winning streak.
Pipkin's 219-yard performance made him Carthage's career rushing champion. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound tailback entered the game with 5,015 yards, trailing only Kris Briggs, who ran for 5,130 yards from 1995-98 before playing four years at SMU. Briggs is the only player in school history with two 2,000-yard seasons. Pipkin needs a little more than 100 yards to record his first 2,000-yard season, which would be the sixth in Carthage history.
"It's a huge honor," Pipkin said. "I just wanted to live up to my dream and set the record."
"Tevin's such a great kid, No.1. And he's a great back. He deserves every bit of it and he works his tail off," Surratt said. "Records are meant to be broken, and who knows, somebody else may break his, but that one may stand for a long time."
Goree's two interceptions, which give him a team-leading six for the year, joined a pick apiece from senior cornerbacks Trevor Cooper and Keldrean Strong. Cooper's came in the first quarter before senior linebacker Tra Leary's fumble recovery. Both helped Carthage build an early 13-0 lead on a Pipkin 31-yard touchdown run and field goals with the wind of 35 and 46 yards by Gonzalez, who secured a school record with the 46-yarder. Carthage drove 68 yards to finish the first half with a nine-yard touchdown strike from Bogenschutz to Rutherford for a seemingly comfortable 20-0 halftime lead, which Goree preserved right before the break with an interception at the goal line.
"You can't say enough about our coaches. (Defensive coordinator Darren) Preston and his staff have done a great job, and they just keep getting better and better," Surratt said. "They played their best game tonight. That offense averaged about 40 points a game, so we shut them down really to seven points if it wasn't for the kickoff (return)."
That return opened the second half and changed the game.
West Orange-Stark's Tomarcus Fontenot sprinted 97 yards for a kickoff return touchdown only 16 seconds into the third quarter. Carthage lost a fumble going in to score less than five minutes later to give the Mustangs another surge of energy, which they turned into their only touchdown drive of the game: an eight-play, 80-yard march capped by Rutledge's one-yard sneak. Alabama-committed junior Deionte' Thompson's 51-yard third-and-14 screen-pass catch-and-run marked the drive's key play.
With its lead cut to 20-14 with 3:17 left in the third, Carthage was forced to punt. West Orange-Stark's Chris James returned the boot 70 yards, but a block in the back negated the return and pinned the Mustangs at their own 8-yard line. Nevertheless, they converted two third-and-longs, the second coming on a Carthage pass interference, to drive to the Bulldog red zone a couple minutes into the fourth.
On second-and-10 from Carthage's 12-yard line, Rutledge's pass sailed in the end zone, where Goree stood waiting for an easy interception and return to the 7-yard line, where Carthage's memorable, game-ending touchdown drive started with 8:53 to play.
Carthage's inability to convert prime opportunities left the door open for West Orange-Stark's comeback.
Each of Carthage's three touchdown drives spanned at least 68 yards, while four Bulldog possessions started in West Orange-Stark territory and yielded a grand total of six points. One ended in a fourth-and-four incompletion from the 9-yard line with a 13-0 second-quarter lead. Another ended in Pipkin's fumble for a touchback with the Dawgs ahead 20-7 five minutes into the third.
Rutherford caught a game-high four passes for 57 yards, while West Orange-Stark's Thompson caught three balls for a game-high 62 yards. Rutledge and Sterling-Cole accounted for all but two of West Orange-Stark's 23 rushing attempts and gained only 40 yards, all from Rutledge.
The wind and penalties combined with a stingy West Orange-Stark defense allowing less than nine points per game to contain Carthage to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Bulldogs committed nine penalties for 72 yards compared to the Mustangs' two for 27 yards.
Carthage's previous low was 39 points in a 24-point loss at Whitehouse on Sept. 27, the last and only time the Bulldogs have lost this season.
Class 3A Division I Region III
Carthage 28, West Orange-Stark 14
C.A. "Butch" Thomas Educational Support Center, Beaumont
Carthage -- 13 7 0 8 -- 28
West Orange-Stark -- 0 0 14 0 -- 14
CAR -- Tevin Pipkin 31 run (Jimmy Gonzalez kick) -- 9:43
CAR -- Gonzalez 35 field goal -- 7:16
CAR -- Gonzalez 46 field goal -- 5:15
CAR -- O'Keeron Rutherford 9 pass from Blake Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 0:20
WOS -- Tomarcus Fontenot 97 kickoff return (Jack Dallas kick) -- 11:44
WOS -- Chase Rutledge 1 run (Dallas kick) -- 3:17
CAR -- Pipkin 2 run (Rutherford pass from Bogenschutz) -- 1:34
First downs 14 11
Total yards 327 252
Rushes-Yards 46-244 23-38
Pass yards 83 214
Comp.-Att-.Int. 6-15-0 14-31-4
Penalties-Yards 9-72 2-17
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-3
Punts-Avg. 3-42.3 4-29.3
Rushing -- Carthage: Tevin Pipkin 29-219, Blake Bogenschutz 11-36, Mario McCain 1-1, Terian "Tee" Goree 2-(-6), TEAM 3-(-6). West Orange-Stark: Chase Rutledge 14-40, Tre Baldwin 1-2, Dillon Sterling-Cole 7-0, Dwain Boullard 1-(-4).
Passing -- Carthage: Blake Bogenschutz 6-15-0 83. West Orange-Stark: Chase Rutledge 8-14-1 131, Dillon Sterling-Cole 6-17-3 83.
Receiving -- Carthage: O'Keeron Rutherford 4-57, Terian "Tee" Goree 1-15, Marquise Guinn 1-11. West Orange-Stark: Deionte' Thompson 3-62, Christian Horn 3-49, Will Johnson 3-28, Dwain Boullard 2-34, Chris James 2-25, Caleb Collins 1-16.
Interceptions -- Carthage: Terian "Tee Goree 2, Trevor Cooper 1, Keldrean Strong 1. West Orange-Stark: None.
Fumble recoveries -- Carthage: Christian Allison 1, Tra Leary 1, James Marshall 1. West Orange-Stark: TEAM (touchback).