Powerful Passing Attack Propels Carthage to 51-22 Rout of La Grange in 3A D-I State Semifinals
MANSFIELD -- Poor weather conditions prevented Carthage from throwing the ball two of the last three weeks the way head coach Scott Surratt prefers.
Blake Bogenschutz and the Bulldogs made up for lost time in a thick mist and steady wind Friday night at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
The senior quarterback threw for almost 400 yards and six touchdowns, three of which went to classmate Terian "Tee" Goree, in a 51-22 runaway victory over La Grange in a Class 3A Division I state semifinal.
Carthage (14-1) is back in the state championship for the fourth time in six years after winning three consecutive 3A Division II crowns from 2008-10. The Bulldogs face Kilgore (13-0) or Stephenville (13-1) at noon Friday in Arlington's AT&T Stadium in the 3A D-I championship bout. Kilgore and Stephenville play 2 p.m. Saturday in Corsicana to decide which team faces Carthage, which improved to 29-3 in the playoffs under seventh-year boss Surratt.
Bogenschutz had one of the best games of his long and impressive career. The UTSA-bound signal caller completed his first nine throws and final six to finish 19-for-25 for 395 yards and six scores to break Carthage's single-season passing yardage record previously held by Anthony Morgan (3,680 in 2010). He enters the state title game with program-bests 3,805 yards and 55 touchdowns with only three interceptions and a career record as a starter of 34-8.
"We knew this was the best weather we've had in a while, so we knew we were gonna fire it around if we got 1-on-1's," Surratt said. "It was just whatever they wanted to give us. We were gonna do whatever they allowed us to do. If they had five in the box or six in the box, we would run the ball."
Goree had a monster performance with 11 catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns of 33, 45, and 10 yards, which separated the Dawgs from the Leopards, 37-14, late in the third quarter. Goree, who has a school-record 28 touchdown catches this season, has almost 1,700 receiving yards on the year, breaking the previous single-season school record of 1,534 set by Jalen Claiborne in 2010.
Fellow North Texas-bound senior receiver O'Keeron Rutherford caught five passes for 109 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown as he dragged a defender the final several yards to put the exclamation point on the win with four minutes remaining. He needs fewer than 40 receiving yards for 1,000 this season.
Bogenschutz also threw touchdown passes to senior running back Tevin Pipkin and senior receiver Keldrean Strong, who caught a ball down the seam and juked a defender for a 45-yard touchdown and 21-7 lead halfway through the second quarter. Pipkin's touchdown grab came on a textbook screen pass that covered 54 yards for a 28-14 lead halfway through the third. Sophomore Jakeldrick Jackson, who had a fourth-quarter interception, made a key downfield block to spring Pipkin the final 20 yards on the screen play.
Pipkin ran only four times for 17 first-half yards, but cut loose in the second half as he and the Carthage offensive line complemented the passing game with a strong performance. He finished with 113 yards on 16 carries, including a 21-yard touchdown that saw him carry two defenders into the end zone for a 44-14 lead with 8:34 left in the game.
Unofficially, Pipkin needs five yards to give him the sixth 2,000-yard rushing season in Carthage history.
"The main thing is we've got everybody healthy and everybody's playing their best football," Surratt said. "We've grown up as a team defensively. That's a strength of ours. We just held a team to 22 points that averaged 47. We gave them five points by jumping offsides (on a would-be field goal attempt inside the 10-yard line). We would've held a team 30 points under their average. You just can't say enough about that group. Kicking game was super. It was a total team effort. Offensively, yeah we popped it around, but when you hold a team to 22 points that averaged 47, we like our chances."
Carthage held La Grange (13-1) to 165 rushing yards in the game's first 39 1/2 minutes before freshman J.K. Dobbins got loose twice for 109 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown with 7:47 to play that trimmed Carthage's lead to 44-22. The Dawgs fielded an onside kick and covered 53 yards in eight plays capped by the 34-yard strike to Rutherford, who caught the ball on the run thanks to a perfect throw from Bogenschutz.
The late yardage helped La Grange finish with its average of 280 on the ground, but Carthage outgained the Leopards 547-395.
Carthage's small, athletic defensive line chased La Grange quarterback Dillon Davis all over the field. Senior Mario McCain, senior Ja'Marcus Roberson, senior Javontay Brown, junior Christopher Howard, and sophomore Jarrod McLin all contributed on tackles in the backfield. Roberson had a sack, while Howard had one and combined with Brown for another. McCain, a four-year varsity starter who leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks, was also in on two sacks.
Davis finished 7 of 15 for 113 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He ran 16 times for 43 yards. In addition to his two fourth-quarter rushes for a team-high 109 yards, Dobbins caught two passes for a team-leading 54 yards. Junior Bralon Hutchison had nine carries for 73 yards and a touchdown, a three-yarder to cap La Grange's second half-opening drive that briefly cut Carthage's lead to 21-14, but the Dawgs scored the game's next 16 points and the outcome was never in doubt come the final minutes of the third.
Senior Rodney Filmore, La Grange's leading rusher entering the game, ran 13 times for 55 yards. He caught a six-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter.
Carthage's win was its second state semifinal victory over La Grange in five years. The Bulldogs beat the Leopards 27-14 in a 2009 3A D-II semifinal in Midlothian.
Carthage awaits the winner of Saturday afternoon's state semifinal rematch between Kilgore and Stephenville, which won last year's meeting 42-32 in Mansfield en route to an undefeated 3A D-I title campaign. Kilgore looks to avenge that loss and give East Texas what it's wanted for two years: a Carthage vs. Kilgore state championship bout.
Carthage and Kilgore have played almost 50 times in their histories. The East Texas powers opened this season with a mid-August scrimmage at Carthage's Bulldog Stadium.
"We talked about it before the season: 'Hey let's get to the Cowboys' stadium and play each other, and whoever wins, wins.' That would be fun," Surratt said. "It would be good for East Texas and be fun competing against a great coaching staff and great players."
An all-East Texas 3A D-I title game would be the second in four years. Henderson beat Chapel Hill 28-21 in the 2010 championship bout.
Class 3A Division I
Carthage 51, La Grange 22
Vernon Newsom Stadium, Mansfield
La Grange -- 7 0 7 8 -- 22
Carthage -- 7 14 16 14 -- 51
CAR -- Terian "Tee" Goree 33 pass from Blake Bogenschutz (Jimmy Gonzalez kick) -- 11:20
LG -- Rodney Filmore 6 pass from Dillon Davis (Marco Cerda kick) -- 4:04
CAR -- Goree 45 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 8:10
CAR -- Keldrean Strong 45 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 6:02
LG -- Bralon Hutchison 3 run (Cerda kick) -- 10:38
CAR -- Tevin Pipkin 54 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 5:19
CAR -- Gonzalez 23 field goal -- 5:26
CAR -- Goree 10 pass from Bogenschutz (kick failed) -- 1:54
CAR -- Pipkin 21 run (Gonzalez kick) -- 8:34
LG -- J.K. Dobbins 64 run (Filmore run) -- 7:47
CAR -- O'Keeron Rutherford 34 pass from Bogenschutz (Gonzalez kick) -- 3:57
First downs 12 21
Total yards 395 547
Rushes-Yards 40-280 28-153
Pass yards 115 394
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-17-1 19-25-0
Penalties-Yards 3-25 2-15
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Punts-Avg. 4-33.5 1-36.0
RUSHING -- La Grange: J.K. Dobbins 2-109, Bralon Hutchison 9-73, Rodney Filmore 13-55, Dillon Davis 16-43. Carthage: Tevin Pipkin 16-113, Terian "Tee" Goree 1-20, Blake Bogenschutz 8-15, Tredarion Jackson 3-5.
PASSING -- La Grange: Dillon Davis 7-15-1 113, Wayne Noak 1-2-0 2. Carthage: Blake Bogenschutz 19-25-0 394.
RECEIVING -- La Grange: J.K. Dobbins 2-54, Riley Grayson 2-29, Wes Scott 1-19, Rodney Filmore 1-6, Wayne Noak 1-5, Dillon Davis 1-2. Carthage: Terian "Tee" Goree 11-176, O'Keeron Rutherford 5-109, Keldrean Strong 2-55, Tevin Pipkin 1-54.