[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

CARTHAGE -- The Carthage Bulldogs appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time.

Carthage scored on its first five possessions Friday night at Bulldog Stadium, coasting to a 34-14 victory over Chapel Hill.

Carthage finished the regular season at 7-3 overall and 4-1 in District 9-4A Division I. The Bulldogs will be the second seed in the playoffs, where they will play Bridge City at 7 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 14) at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin.

“We’ve gotten better as the season has gone along,” Carthage coach Scott Surratt said. “I think we’re playing our best football right now. We’ve got lots of injuries but I feel like we’re playing our best. We’re excited to be in the playoffs.”

Chapel Hill finished at 3-7 overall and 2-3 in district play, and despite a 1-5 start will make the postseason for the fifth consecutive year. The Bulldogs will play Silsbee at 7 p.m. Friday in Lufkin.

Jarod Blissett led the way for Carthage, completing 14 of 20 passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns in just over a half of play. His favorite target was once again Jakeldric Jackson -- the senior playmaker hauled in seven passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark on the season.

Jarrod McLin added an 85-yard touchdown catch and sophomore tailback Keaontay Ingram picked up 54 yards and a score on the ground.

Chapel Hill struggled offensively throughout, collecting just 93 first-half yards and were unable to find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.

“I thought Blissett threw it well and our offensive line dominated up front, I think we played well in all three phases," Surratt said. “Defensively, we’ve got a lot of new faces in there. We’ve got 5 or 6 starters out, but they’re not coming back so we’ve got to step up. We ran to the ball well and tackled well, created a few turnovers, I thought they played well.”

Carthage wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.

After the gam's opening play was called back due to penalty, Blissett took to the air, hitting Mclin in stride for an 85-yard scoring strike just 26 seconds into the game.

Chapel Hill’s offense sputtered out of the gates, getting nowhere and punting the ball away to the Carthage 25-yard line.

Ingram’s 17-yard carry started the drive and Hunter Townsend’s 8-yard run moved the ball across midfield. Blissett connected with Ingram for 14 yards and on fourth-and-7 hit Jackson up the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown for a quick 14-0 lead.

Two penalties and an incompletion on third-and-13 killed the next drive for Chapel Hill, and the rout was on.

Blissett then connected with Townsend for 38 yards and Ingram for 14 yards before hitting Jackson for 8 yards to the 2-yard line. Ingram got in on the ground on the next play. The extra point was wide, putting the Carthage lead at 20-0 with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter.

Dee Bowens picked off Konnor Hitchcock at the 40-yard line on the next drive, returning it 50 yards to set up the Carthage offense with first-and-goal at the Chapel Hill 10-yard line.

Three plays later Blissett collected his third touchdown pass of the night and his second to Jackson, this time from 6 yards out.

Carthage added its final score of the first half on a methodical 11-play, 64-yard drive. Hardy picked up 10 yards on the second play of the drive while Blissett connected with Jackson for 10 and 13 yards to move the ball to the Chapel Hill 41-yard line.

Ingram added 8 on the ground and Blissett found Jackson for a third time on the drive for 17 yards to the 9-yard line. Bowens got in on the scoring act, catching a slant from Blissett for the 3-yard score and a 34-0 halftime lead.

Chapel Hill managed two scores late, both led by Reggie King who replaced an injured Hitchcock in the second half.

King connected with Austin Railsback for a 27-yard score to put Chapel Hill on the board, and threw his second score of the night with 1:13 remaining when he hit Zach Walters for a 22-yard touchdown.

King finished with 81 yards and a pair of scores through the air, completing 5 of 6 passes, and also ran for 32 yards and caught two passes for 32 yards. Jordan Brantley added 84 yards on the ground on 15 carries.

Carthage 34, Chapel Hill 14

District 9-4A Division I
At Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

Chapel Hill    0    0   0   14  --  14
Carthage    20  14   0     0  --  34
First Quarter
CAR – Jarrod McLin 85 pass from Jarod Blissett (Rafael Hernandez kick) 11:34
CAR – Jakeldric Jackson 26 pass from Blissett (Hernandez kick) 6:59
CAR – Keaontay Ingram 2 run (kick failed) 3:35
Second Quarter
CAR – Jackson 6 pass from Blissett (Jose Dejulian kick) 11:52
CAR – Dee Bowens 3 pass from Blissett (Dejulian kick) 5:49
Fourth Quarter
CH – Austin Railsback 27 pass from Reggie King (Austyn Fendrick kick) 5:47
CH – Zack Walters 22 pass from King (Fendrick kick) 1:13

                                CH           CAR
First Downs              10             14
Total Yards                243           388
Rushes-Yards           36-123      31-109
Passing Yards           120            279
Comp-Att-Int            8-16-1       16-26-1
Penalties-Yards         9-58          6-40
Fumbles-Lost            3-1            1-0
Punts-Avg.                5-39.0        2-40.0


RUSHING – Chapel Hill, Kenyotta Henderson 3-19, Jordan Brantley 15-84, Konnor Hitchcock 3-(minus-18), Deandre Hordge 2-(minus-8), Reggie King 10-32, LaDarian Hudson 3-14. Carthage, Keaontay Ingram 10-54, Hunter Townsend 1-9, Ravodney Hardy 8-33, Jakeldric Jackson 2-10, Montario Wilson 9-9, Kason Davis 1-(minus-4).
PASSING – Chapel Hill, Hitchcock 3-10-1--39, King 5-6-0--81. Carthage, Jarod Blissett 14-20-0--246, Davis 2-6-1--33.
RECEIVING – Chapel Hill, Zach Walters 5-61, King 2-32, Austin Railsback 1-27, Carthage, Jarrod McLin 1-85, Ingram 3-23, Jackson 7-83, Townsend 2-52, Dee Bowens 1-3, Chris Attaway 1-25, Keilinn Shelton 1-8.