Carthage Grinds Out 28-7 Win Over Henderson + Returns to Semis
LONGVIEW – The weather was not going to let either offense show every facet of its game. It, instead, was up to the big men up front to control both lines of scrimmage.
And the two-time defending state champion Carthage Bulldogs dominated each side of the ball.
Top-ranked Carthage rolled up 311 rushing yards, while limiting Henderson to 57 total yards in a 28-7 victory in their Class 4A Division I quarterfinal Friday night on a rain-soaked field at Lobo Stadium.
The Bulldogs (14-0) extended their state-best winning streak to 40 games, and advanced to the ninth state semifinal in 12 years under head coach Scott Surratt.
Carthage will meet the winner of Saturday’s game between Liberty Hill (11-1) and La Vernia (12-1) next week with a berth in the state championship game on the line.
Bulldogs senior quarterback Gunner Capps threw two touchdown passes, but was limited to a season-low 69 yards.
But Carthage senior running back Tucker Smith picked up the slack by rushing for a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Sophomore Mason Courtney added 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts.
“Mason Courtney banged his shoulder a little bit, and Tucker went in,” Surratt said. “Of course, we’ve been rotating them all year anyway but it was Tucker’s night. And what a great night he had. I thought we controlled the ball and controlled the clock, and that’s what you’ve got to do in weather like this.”
Carthage dominated time of possession, running 69 plays from scrimmage to just 33 for Henderson (9-5). The Bulldogs also limited Henderson to only three first downs on the night.
“Our defensive staff put a great game plan together," Surratt said. "They had a chip on their shoulder from last week, we didn’t think we played very well (defensively), and they played phenomenal (tonight).”
The defensive performance came on the heels of last week’s 50-49 overtime win over Midlothian Heritage in which Carthage surrendered 583 yards.
“We’ve got so much pride in this program, not just players but coaches,” Surratt said. “Our defensive coaches had a chip on their shoulder, and the players followed through with the game plan. They played very physical, and it was very difficult for them to throw it tonight, like it was for us.”
Carthage set the tone on its first drive of the night, traveling 73 yards in 14 plays, taking more than half of the first quarter. Capps’ 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kaden Holcomb put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
The lead swelled to two scores in the second quarter when Austin Morgan came down with the first of Carthage’s two interceptions, which led to a 17-yard touchdown run from Smith.
Henderson’s Keshoyn Alexander got the Lions on the board by returning the second-half kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown, which were the first points Henderson had scored against Carthage in 10 quarters of action.
Capps’ 19-yard scoring toss to Hunter Hill pushed Carthage’s lead to 21-7 with 1:11 to play in the third quarter. Courtney’s 4-yard touchdown run with 3:23 remaining shut the door, as Carthage ended Henderson’s season for the third consecutive year.
“(Assistant coach Clint Endsley) called most of the runs tonight, and he did a great job of calling them,” Surratt said. “We executed them, and we dominated the line of scrimmage again.”
No. 1 Carthage 28, Henderson 7
Class 4A Division I, Region III Final
At Lobo Stadium, Longview
Henderson 0 0 7 0 – 7
Carthage 7 7 7 7 – 28
CAR—Kaden Holcomb 15 pass from Gunner Capps (Luis Piedra kick), 5:50.
CAR—Tucker Smith 17 run (Piedra kick), 9:50.
HEN—Keshoyn Alexander 76 kickoff return (Axel Romero kick), 11:48.
CAR—Hunter Hill 19 pass from Capps (Piedra kick), 1:11.
CAR—Mason Courtney 4 run (Piedra kick), 3:23.
First Downs 3 23
Total Yards 57 380
Rushes-Yards 20-58 48-311
Passing Yards (-1) 69
Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-13-2 10-21-0
Punts-Avg. 7-39.7 5-30.6
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-25 3-20
RUSHING—Henderson, Kevin Fields 10-54, Caleb Medford 3-12, Eli Jones 2-3, Keshoyn Alexander 5-(-11). Carthage, Tucker Smith 25-224, Mason Courtney 16-86, Kelvontay Dixon 2-15, Jaden Thomas 2-2, Team 1-(-2), Anthony Wilson 1-(-4), Gunner Capps 1-(-10).
PASSING—Henderson, Sevastian De Leon 2-13-2—(-1). Carthage, Capps 10-21-0—69.
RECEIVING—Henderson, Fields 1-1, Kourtland Jackson 1-(-2). Carthage, Dixon 6-30, Hunter Hill 1-19, Kaden Holcomb 1-15, Baylor Colle 1-7, Smith 1-(-5).