[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

HENDERSON -- Jarod Blissett kept finding an open Jakeldric Jackson, and Jackson kept making plays.

The duo connected nine times on the night to lead the way for the Carthage Bulldogs, as they avenged last season's defeat to the Henderson Lions with a 35-15 win in the District 9-4A Division I opener Friday night at Lion Stadium.

Blissett completed 15 of 26 passing attempts for 322 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair to Jackson for 39 and 64 yards. Jackson caught nine passes on the night for 233 yards, while Marquise Guinn hauled in four passes for 67 yards.

Ravodney Hardy pounded out 109 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Henderson's Lakendrick Vanzandt is brought down by Carthage's Deairreus Hearn during their game Friday night in Henderson. (Trey Bell, ETSN.fm)

Carthage lead 22-0 early, but the Lions scored on either side of the half to make things interesting.

Matthew Childers hit Lakendrick Vanzandt for a 60-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the first half, and Tresten Ebner added the two-point conversion to make it a 22-8 halftime deficit.

The Lions (5-1, 0-1) opened the second half, and took advantage of good field position. It took just five plays, along with the help of a Carthage penalty, as Childers hit Ebner up the middle on a fourth-and-8 for a 30-yard touchdown.

The big lead was gone as the Lions seemingly had all the momentum and had cut the lead to 22-15 just three minutes into the third quarter.

It was all Carthage from there.

The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0) chewed up five minutes of clock on a 15-play drive, which appeared as if it would end with a field goal.

After a sack and a pair of incompletions, Rafael Hernandez nailed a 42-yarder. However, a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs.

Blissett hit Guinn for 12 yards on third-and-10 to the 1-yard line, and Hardy bulldozed his way in on the next play. The two-point attempt failed, giving the Bulldogs a 28-15 lead.

A penalty and a bad snap killed the next drive for the Lions, and after a punt, it didn’t take long for Carthage to strike again.

A 9-yard run for Hardy set up Blissett to hit Jackson in stride for a 64-yard touchdown, his second of the night, pushing the lead to 35-15.

Henderson's Lakendrick Vanzandt looks for room to run during the Lions' 35-15 loss to Carthage on Friday night in Henderson. (Trey Bell, ETSN.fm)

The Carthage defense shut down the Lions from that point, limiting them to just 83 yards in the second half and forcing turnovers on their final three possessions.

For the game, the Bulldogs outgained the Lions, 435-221, and limited the Lions to just 63 rushing yards.

After reaching the Bulldogs' 10-yard line on the next drive, a fumbled snap was scooped up by Deairreus Hearn and the Lions wouldn’t reach Bulldog territory again.

Interceptions by Mykel Gates and Mason Graham finished off the Lions as the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock.

Carthage coach Scott Surratt emphasized the importance of starting the district race off with a big win against their Highway 79 rival.

“It’s so important,” Surratt said. “Last year we lost the first one and were behind the eight-ball. Luckily we got back in, but we’re 1-0 and it’s a huge win when you come over here and win a ballgame.”

The Bulldogs came out early and established the run with eight of their first 10 plays coming on the ground.

“We thought we had some advantages on the offensive line,” Surratt said. “I think we ran the ball well and that set up our passing game and our shots to Jackson, and Guinn had several big plays. It was a total team effort. Defensively we had several turnovers and other than the big play we gave up before the half, we made them drive the length of the field.”

Carthage took the opening possession of the night and went to the ground.

Hardy converted a fourth-and-1 at his own 34-yard line with a 5-yard run up the middle, one of his seven carries on the drive. His 2-yard run converted a second fourth down, and on the next play, Blissett hit Jackson for a 39-yard scoring strike.

The Bulldogs tacked on the two-point conversion when Kason Davis hit Guinn on a rollout.

Carthage got the ball right back after the Lions muffed the ensuing pooch kick with Dee Bowens scooping it up.

The Bulldogs couldn’t take advantage, however, as Vanzandt stripped Jackson as he approached the end zone and Austin Daughtry pounced on it at the 5-yard line.

Henderson's Trestan Ebner returns a punt during the Lions' 35-15 loss to Carthage on Friday night in Henderson. (Trey Bell, ETSN.fm)

The Lions couldn’t get anything and were forced to punt on that and their next two possessions.

Carthage took advantage.

Blissett hit Jackson once again for 45 yards on the opening play of the game's next possession, and Hardy picked up 11 on the following play to reach the Lions' 24-yard line. Following a pair of incompletions, it appeared the Lions would take over on downs. However, a holding call on fourth-and-14 gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs.

Blissett then hit Keaontay Ingram on third-and-9 for a 16-yard TD to push the Bulldogs' lead to 15-0.

After an 18-yard punt from the Lions, the Bulldogs set up at midfield.

Blissett hit Guinn for 35 yards to the Lions' 14-yard line, Hardy followed with runs of 10 and 2 yards to reach the 2-yard line. Blissett punched it in on the next play, giving Carthage a 22-0 lead.

The Bulldogs tried to add to their lead just before the half but a trio of incompletions gave the Lions a shot, leading to their score just before the half to close to deficit.

Childers competed 7 of 14 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions, while Vanzandt added 63 yards on the ground on 14 carries to go along with the 60-yard TD reception. Enber added four catches for 72 yards and a score.

Carthage returns to action next week when it travels to Kilgore, while Henderson looks to bounce back at Brownsboro.

Henderson's Trestan Ebner (9) converts a two-point conversion during the Lions' 35-15 loss to Carthage on Friday night in Henderson. (Trey Bell, ETSN.fm)

Carthage 35, Henderson 15

At Lion Stadium, Henderson

Carthage                8    14    13      0    --    35
Henderson             0      8      7      0    --    15

First Quarter
CAR--Jakeldric Jackson 39 pass from Jarod Blissett (Marquise Guinn pass from Kason Davis), 6:28.
Second Quarter
CAR--Keaontay Ingram 16 pass from Blissett (Rafael Hernandez kick), 6:51.
CAR--Blissett 2 run (Hernandez kick), 3:08.
HEN--Lakendrick Vanzandt 60 pass from Matthew Childers (Trestan Ebner pass from Childers), :23.
Third Quarter
HEN--Ebner 30 pass from Childers (Julio Cervantes kick), 8:57.
CAR--Ravodney Hardy 1 run (run failed), 3:55.
CAR--Jackson 64 pass from Blissett (Hernandez kick), :20.

                                            CAR               HEN
First Downs                              18                    9
Total Yards                             435                221
Rushes-Yards                    36-113            24-63
Passing Yards                         322               158
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 15-26-0           8-17-2
Punts-Avg.                           2-22.0          4-27.0
Fumbles-Lost                           2-1               1-1
Penalties-Yards                      9-90              7-67

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Carthage, Ravodney Hardy 23-109, Keaontay Ingram 6-13, Jatavion Spillmon 1-3, Jarod Blissett 4-(-6), Kason Davis 2-(-6). Henderson, Lakendrick Vanzandt 14-63, Chris Blalock 1-7, Lynn Freeney 1-4, Trestan Ebner 1-1, Matthew Childers 7-(-12).
PASSING--Carthage, Blissett 15-26-0--322. Henderson, Childers 7-14-1--138, Trae Hall 1-3-1--20.
RECEIVING--Carthage, Jakeldric Jackson 9-233, Marquise Guinn 4-67, Ingram 1-16, Hardy 1-6. Henderson, Ebner 4-72, Vanzandt 1-60, Drew Doerge 1-15, Blalock 1-6, Tre Blanton 1-5.