CARTHAGE -- A week after beating rival Lufkin for the first time in more than two decades, Nacogdoches came two yards away from shocking Class 3A's No. 1 team.

Carthage's defense stopped Nacogdoches at the 2-yard line on the game's final play after the duo of third-year backfield starters Blake Bogenschutz and Tevin Pipkin connected on a 32-yard screen-pass touchdown with 24 seconds remaining to propel the Bulldogs to a 44-40 win against the Dragons in a Friday night thriller at Bulldog Stadium.

Nacogdoches (2-1) drove to Carthage's 21-yard line with seven seconds remaining before an incompletion left the Dragons one second for a final play. Junior quarterback Hunter McClellan found sophomore Brandon Jones for a 19-yard gain as Jones dragged two defenders toward the goal line with no time on the clock, but a pack of Dawgs drove Jones back at the 2-yard line to seal the Bulldog win.

Carthage's win sets up an inter-classification showdown next week when 3A's top-ranked Bulldogs travel to Smith County to face Class 4A No. 5 Whitehouse (4-0) in what looks like East Texas' biggest non-district game of 2013.

Nacogdoches' L.J. Barnes runs after making a first-half catch during Friday's 44-40 loss at Carthage. (Bud Worley,

Bogenschutz, starting his 31st game as Carthage's quarterback, completed 15 of 28 passes for 278 yards and five touchdowns, three of which went to senior Terian "Tee" Goree, who caught five passes for 116 yards. Goree has an East Texas-leading 12 touchdown catches in four games.

Carthage's game-winning drive covered 74 yards on three plays. The two-minute drill was more of a half-minute drill as Bogenschutz completed all three of his throws to lead the Dawgs down the field for the go-ahead score in only 26 seconds. After Carthage fell to Whitehouse and El Campo in close losses last season, Bogenschutz said his team is determined to deliver in those situations this year.

"We've been here before. The last two times we've had that, we haven't scored, so I was like, 'It's time for us to grow up and be seniors,'" he said. "We were all excited, we got out there, and we got it done. ... You've gotta give props to those linemen and receivers out there blocking (on Pipkin's game-winning touchdown). Everybody just executed, and that's the way it's supposed to be."

Surratt said Bogenschutz "put us on his back" on the Bulldogs' final possession.

"He told me, 'Coach, we're not settling for no field goal. We're going for a touchdown.' I said, 'Hey, sounds like a good plan to me,'" Surratt said. "We knew they were really good. We watched them against Lufkin. That was no fluke and they got it done in the end, and we got it done in the end tonight."

Carthage's O'Keeron Rutherford runs after a catch as Nacogdoches' Jason Johnson closes in during Friday's 44-40 Carthage win at Bulldog Stadium. (Bud Worley,

Carthage (4-0) gambled on fourth-and-7 at its own 37-yard line with 2:19 left and turned the ball over on downs after consecutive drops. Nacogdoches' Rudy Fuentes drilled a 40-yard field goal with 50 seconds left for a 40-37 lead, but Bogenschutz hit Keldrean Strong and Goree for gains of 24 and 18 yards, respectively, giving Carthage the ball at Nacogdoches' 32-yard line with 35 seconds left.

After a Nacogdoches timeout, Bogenschutz hit Pipkin on a screen pass in the right flat. Senior receiver O'Keeron Rutherford got a crucial block that allowed senior guard Mario McCain and senior center Cade Clinton to form a two-man convoy to spring Pipkin, who tight-roped the final 15 yards of his game-winning catch-and-run with 24 seconds to play.

Pipkin's heroics came after he missed the first three and a half quarters with an ankle injury that was expected to keep him out of the entire contest. He gained 62 yards on his six touches, which all came in the final 5:12.

"They told me before the game in the locker room, there's the possibility that I"ll play, but it's not very high. On the sideline they asked me if I'm good, if I'm 100 percent, and I said, 'Yes, just put me in the game,'" Pipkin said. "When I got in I just wanted to make a statement and test my ankle to see how it was. I wanted to drive myself and push myself because I had a lot of stuff built up from not getting in the first three quarters and I wanted to come in and make a good run."

Nacogdoches forces a second-quarter Carthage fumble during Friday's 44-40 Bulldog win at Carthage's Bulldog Stadium. (Bud Worley,

Junior Bryian Bolton started in Pipkin's place. Bolton finished strong after a shaky start, rushing for 101 yards on 12 carries. His five-yard touchdown run with 7:37 remaining tied the game 37-37 and capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive that included nine running plays for 67 yards. Junior Tredarion Jackson ran seven times for 55 yards, all in the second half, when Carthage committed itself to the running game. The Bulldogs ran for 186 second-half yards after gaining only 25 yards on five first-half rushes.

"The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and that's what they're gonna do in fourth quarters," Surratt said.

McClellan shined in the loss. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 37 yards and a touchdown, keeping Carthage's strong pass rush honest most of the game with his scrambling ability.

McClellan hit L.J. Barnes for second-half touchdowns of 49 and 27 yards, the latter giving the Dragons a 37-30 lead on the fourth quarter's first play. Barnes caught four passes for 101 yards, while Tae Thomas added four grabs for 60 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown reception for a 23-22 lead in the third. Barnes' 49-yarder followed less than two minutes later for Nacogdoches' largest lead of the game, 30-22, with 4:22 to play in the third.

Carthage's Bryian Bolton stiff-arms Nacogdoches' Greg Roberts during Friday's 44-40 win at Bulldog Stadium. (Bud Worley,

Carthage, which entered the game averaging 554.6 total yards per game, sputtered in the first half. Nacogdoches held the Bulldogs to three consecutive three-and-outs at one point, but Carthage responded in the second half, gaining 337 yards to edge the Dragons in total yardage, 489-450.

Coronado Tolbert had a strong game for Nacogdoches. The junior running back finished with a game-high 134 yards on 26 carries, while classmate Bryce Matthews ran nine times for 46 yards as the Dragons gained 217 yards on 48 rushes behind a hefty line spearheaded by Kansas-bound center Jacob Bragg.

Carthage 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore tight end Marquise Guinn had the best game of his young career. Guinn caught five passes for 55 yards to double his season receptions total. In addition to his blocking, Rutherford caught three passes for 51 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown late in the third that tied Nacogdoches 30-30.

Nacogdoches senior defensive end Greg Roberts, who is committed to Baylor, had two tackles for loss. Fellow senior end Jacorey Whitaker added a sack. Carthage senior tackle Mario McCain had multiple tackles for loss and combined with sophomore end Jarrod McLin on a sack. Carthage senior tackle Javontay Brown and junior end Christopher Howard had one sack apiece.

Carthage needed only three plays to score on the game's opening drive. Bogenschutz hit Goree for a 36-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game, but Nacogdoches bounced back with the next 13 points, including a nine-yard touchdown strike from McClellan to Sam Morgan and McClellan's seven-yard, fourth-down touchdown run for a 13-7 lead halfway through the second.

Carthage briefly regained the lead on a 50-yard touchdown to Goree. Fuentes' 21-yard field goal on the first half's final play gave Nacogdoches a 16-14 halftime lead. A Carthage offside penalty let the Dragons retry the kick after they missed the first attempt.

Nacogdoches' Rudy Fuentes kicks a go-ahead 40-yard field goal with 50 seconds left, but the Dragons fell 44-40 at Carthage on Friday night. (Bud Worley,


No. 1 Carthage 44, Nacogdoches 40

Bulldog Stadium, Carthage


Nacogdoches -- 7 9 14 10 -- 40
Carthage -- 7 7 16 14 -- 44

First Quarter
CAR -- Terian "Tee" Goree 36 pass from Blake Bogenschutz (Jimmy Gonzalez kick) -- 11:07
NAC -- Sam Morgan 9 pass from Hunter McClellan (Rudy Fuentes kick) -- 4:28
Second Quarter
NAC -- McClellan 7 run (kick failed) -- 5:48
CAR -- Goree 50 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 3:07
NAC -- Rudy Fuentes 21 field goal -- 0:00
Third Quarter
CAR -- Goree 12 pass from Bogenschutz (Keldrean Strong pass from Bogenschutz) -- 7:54
NAC -- Tae Thomas 20 pass from McClellan (Fuentes kick) -- 6:08
NAC -- L.J. Barnes 49 pass from McClellan (Fuentes kick) -- 4:22
CAR -- O'Keeron Rutherford 10 pass from Bogenschutz (Goree pass from Bogenschutz) -- 1:45
Fourth Quarter
NAC -- Barnes 27 pass from McClellan (Fuentes kick) -- 11:51
CAR -- Bryian Bolton 5 run (Gonzalez kick) -- 7:37
NAC -- Fuentes 40 field goal -- 0:50
CAR -- Tevin Pipkin 32 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 0:24

                                               NAC                      CAR
First downs                               21                          24
Total yards                               450                        489
Rushes-Yards                        48-217                   30-211
Pass yards                                233                        278
Comp.-Att.-Int.                      15-28-0                 15-28-0
Penalties-Yards                        9-70                       4-36
Fumbles-Lost                             4-0                         3-2
Punts-Avg.                               5-41.2                    4-42.5

Individual Stats
RUSHING -- Nacogdoches: Coronado Tolbert 26-134, Bryce Matthews 9-46, Hunter McClellan 13-37. Carthage: Bryian Bolton 12-101, Tredarion Jackson 7-55, Tevin Pipkin 5-30, Terian "Tee" Goree 3-20, Blake Bogenschutz 3-5.
PASSING -- Nacogdoches: Hunter McClellan 15-28-0 233. Carthage: Blake Bogenschutz 15-28-0 278.
RECEIVING -- Nacogdoches: L.J. Barnes 4-101, Tae Thomas 4-60, Sam Morgan 4-26, Reed Watson 2-27, Brandon Jones 1-19. Carthage: Terian "Tee" Goree 5-116, Marquise Guinn 5-55, O'Keeron Rutherford 3-51, Tevin Pipkin 1-32, Keldrean Strong 1-24.