Late Interception Costs Nacogdoches Comeback Against Carthage
NACOGDOCHES -- In a battle between two 1-1 squads, the Carthage Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and fought off a Nacogdoches rally to walk away with a 28-25 win on Friday.
The Dragons scored on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Noah Hildebrand to Luther Berry to cut Carthage’s lead to a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but an interception and two late first downs allowed the Bulldogs to maintain that edge for the victory.
Jarod Blissett was strong once again for the Bulldogs (2-1), throwing for 262 yards and a touchdown on 15 completions on 29 attempts while rushing for another score.
Running back Ravodney Hardy kept things balanced, picking up 139 yards and a score for a Carthage offense the Dragons had trouble stopping all night.
Phillip Jones came through with another steady performance for the Dragons (1-2), picking up 129 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Noah Hildebrand threw for 211 yards on 10 completions, but two costly interceptions proved the difference in the contest.
The first came early in the third quarter. Jakevion McDaniel picked off the Dragons and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to increase Carthage’s lead to 28-11 with 10:45 left in the third quarter.
Dee Bowens picked up the second for the Bulldogs when the Dragons were trying to drive for a score to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Bowens’ interception wasn’t the final deciding factor, however.
While the Bulldogs had the ball, there were still over four minutes on the clock and two Dragon timeouts.
After standing tall to the Bulldogs' offense for much of the second half, Nacogdoches was unable to force another chance for the offense.
Carthage opened the game quickly, driving down the field and capping it off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Blissett to go up 7-0 with 9:20 remaining in the first quarter.
The Dragons responded in turn, scoring on a 1-yard rush by Jones and then going for and making a two-point conversion on a sneak by Hildebrand to seize their first and only lead, 8-7, with 4:41 left in the first quarter.
From there, Carthage picked up steam.
Hardy pushed another score across from two yards out to regain the lead for Carthage at 14-8 with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
Nacogdoches drove the ball far into Bulldogs territory on its next drive, but it had to settle for a close-range field goal by Chris Campos and remained down.
Carthage added to its lead when Blissett found Jakeldric Jackson in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left in the first half.
The Dragons received the ball to open the second half and began to drive.
As they neared the 50-yard line, however, Jakevion McDaniel picked off the Dragons and returned it all the way for a Bulldog score — increasing the lead to 28-11 less than two minutes into the half.
Facing a sizeable deficit, the Dragons weren’t ready to give in just yet.
Jones scored his second touchdown on the following possession on a three-yard rush to cut Carthage’s lead to 10 points.
The Bulldogs drove down the field on their next possession and kicked a field goal.
Near the end of the third quarter, star receiver Alex Gregory went down with an apparent head injury on a hard tackle and the Dragons were forced to insert new receivers into the lineup.
Cue Berry’s first catch of the season was a 48-yard touchdown to cut Carthage's lead down to three points.