[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

CARTHAGE -- Going on the road to open district play against the defending state champions is never an easy task.

At times on Friday night, Henderson quarterback Zane Boles made it look easy.

Boles accounted for three touchdowns, and the Lions opened District 9-4A Division I play with a 38-16 victory over the Carthage Bulldogs, spoiling homecoming night at Bulldog Stadium.

The 6-5 senior excelled both through the air and on the ground, leading the way for an offense that gashed the Carthage defense throughout the night with the use of the read-option.

Boles finished 8 of 13 through the air for 123 yards and a score, while doing most of his damage on the ground, carrying the ball 17 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Henderson's Trestan Ebner scores a touchdown during the Lions' 38-16 win at Carthage on Friday night. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

“Zane’s an unselfish kid, he’s willing to do whatever,” said Henderson coach Phil Castles. “He’s got a great arm, a big physical kid that’s the leader of our team both in the huddle and off the field.”

The loss was just Carthage’s second district loss in the last eight seasons, as the Bulldogs are 32-2 in that span under coach Scott Surratt. The only other district loss came in 2011 to Gilmer, 39-36.

“They outplayed us,” Surratt said. “They outcoached us, outplayed us, they got after us and we thought we could play with them and I think we could. I don’t think we played very well but you’ve got to give the credit to them. They made us not play very good. They got after us defensively, and then offensively they got after us, we didn’t make them punt. They deserve to win, they’re the better football team right now.”

Henderson picked up its first win against Carthage since 2007, and now leads the all-time series, 39-29-3.

The Lions dominated a second half in which it led going into the break, 15-8, scoring on all but their final possession, a kneel down in the game's final moments.

They opened the second half, as they did the first, using the read-option to move the ball in chunks.

Henderson's La'Kendrick Vanzandt runs with the ball during the Lions' 38-16 win at Carthage on Friday night. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

Runs of 11 and 18 yards by La’Kendrick Vanzandt and Boles moved the ball deep into Bulldog territory. Following a pass interference penalty against Carthage, Vanzandt found the end zone from 7 yards out with the successful 2-point conversion, giving the Lions a 23-8 lead.

Carthage failed to pick up a loose ball on the ensuing kickoff and Henderson had the ball back at the Bulldogs' 20.

The Carthage defense held, and after missing two first-half field goal attempts, Edgar Sanchez was good from 43 yards away, putting the Lions in control, 26-8.

The Bulldogs (1-5, 0-1) mounted their best drive of the game on the next possession.

Starting at their own 32, they held the ball for just under eight minutes with a 20-play drive with Ravodney Hardy and freshman Hunter Townsend doing most of the damage on the ground, collecting 26 and 16 yards, respectively. Hardy finished off the drive with a 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 26-16.

Hardy led the way for the Bulldogs, collecting 99 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns.

It was as close as Carthage got in the second half, as the Lions took the next possession and marched right down the field. Back-to-back runs of 7 and 17 yards for Boles, followed by a completion to Trestan Ebner set up a 15-yard scoring run for Davis.

Carthage's Ravodney Hardy runs during the Bulldogs' 38-16 home loss to Henderson on Friday night. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

The Lions' defense frustrated Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett throughout the night, along with a handful of drops that have plagued the Bulldogs' offense all season. The area's second-leading passing yardage leader was held to just 73 yards and an interception, coming on the Bulldogs' final possession.

“The secondary really stepped up, they played really well. Both the safeties and the corners had some big plays,” Castles said. “They knocked some balls down and had the big interception there at the end, the whole team they did a great job.”

Following a fourth-down sack of Blissett by Dalton Goode, the Lions finished off the scoring with a six-play drive that covered 25 yards, as Boles snuck in from 1 yard out for his third TD of the night, sealing the victory for the Lions.

“I can’t say enough about our kids, they work their tail-ends off, they believe when everyone else tells them not to believe,” Castles said. "They performed at such a high level against a very good football team. That’s a good football team over there, don’t let their record deceive you. I’m proud of our kids and the way they responded.”

Henderson (5-1,1-0) set the tone on its opening possession of the game.

Following a nine-play opening drive for Carthage, one that spanned nearly five minutes, the Bulldogs failed to convert on a fourth-and-7 after a Blissett pass fell incomplete. The Lions took over from there at their own 32-yard line.

It took the Lions just two plays to find the end zone. Following a first-down pass from Boles to Guy Wallace, Boles ran the read-option to perfection, keeping it 47 yards for the game's opening score. Davis tacked on the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 Lions lead.

The Bulldogs next possession ended quickly with a three-and-out, and the Lions looked like they would take advantage.

Carthage's Jarod Blissett rolls out for a pass during the Bulldogs' 38-16 home loss to Henderson on Friday night. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

A promising drive that reached the Bulldogs' 15-yard line went backwards after a Jarrod McLin sack of Boles, setting up a 33-yard field goal attempt that went wide left.

The Carthage offense continued to struggle, but found life when linebacker James Marshall pounced on a Lions fumble during a botched read-option play.

It took the Bulldogs just three plays from there, with Hardy doing all the work. Runs of 15 and 7 put the ball at the 10-yard line, where Hardy ran through a Lions defender on the way to a score. The junior tailback tacked on the 2-point conversion to tie things up at 8-8.

Henderson responded, though, using its next drive to regain the lead.

Starting at their own 26, the Lions used the read-option heavily, with Boles and Davis moving the chains down the field. Boles picked up 24 yards on the ground on the drive while Davis added 21, moving the ball to the Bulldog 23-yard line. Boles took to the air on the next play, finding Ebner on a fade route for the 23-yard TD.

Ebner finished the night with five catches for 81 yards and a score.

Henderson returns to action next week as it hosts Brownsboro. Carthage looks to rebound with a tough test at home against Kilgore, a rematch of last season's 3A Division I state title game.

Henderson's Randy Davis runs during the Lions' 38-16 win at Carthage on Friday night. (Bud Worley, ETSN.fm)

Henderson 38 Carthage 16

At Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

Henderson               8     7    11    12    --    38
Carthage                  0     8      8      0    --    16

First Quarter
HEN – Zane Boles 47 run (Randy Davis 2-PT) 6:27
Second Quarter
CAR – Ravodney Hardy 10 run (Hardy 2-PT) 8:21
HEN – Trestan Ebner 9 pass from Boles (Edgar Sanchez kick) 4:20
Third Quarter
HEN – La’Kendrick Vanzandt 7 run (2-PT Good) 9:29
HEN – Edgar Sanchez 42 field goal 7:56
CAR – Hardy 1 run (Hardy 2-PT) :00
Fourth Quarter
HEN – Randy Davis 15 run (2-PT failed) 8:26
HEN – Boles 1 run (Kick failed) 3:30

                                  HEN                CAR
First Downs                19                   15
Total Yards                351                 197
Rushes-Yards           43-228           37-124
Pass Yards                 123                 73
Comp-Att-Int             8-13-0            9-20-1
Penalties-Yards         4-36                5-47
Fumbles-Lost             2-1                  1-0
Punts-Avg                  0-0                  3-31

RUSHING--Henderson, Zane Boles 17-129, Randy Davis 22-80, La’Kendrick Vanzandt 4-19, Carthage, Ravodney Hardy 20-99, Hunter Townsend 9-44, Jarod Blissett 5-(-13), Jakeldric Jackson 2-9, Micah Templeton 1-(-15).
PASSING--Henderson, Boles 8-13-0--123. Carthage, Blissett 9-20-1--73
RECEIVING--Henderson, Guy Wallace 3-42, Trestan Ebner 5-81. Carthage, Jackson 2-20, Hardy 1-1, Kirston Ingram 3-39, Townsend 2-8, Jarrod McLin 1-5.