Carthage Passing Game Fuels Dawgs’ 56-40 4A D-I Region III Title Win Over Silsbee
[By Gabe Brooks, Special to ETSN.fm]
Stats courtesy David Thompson
TYLER -- For the sixth time in eight seasons, Carthage will play in the state semifinals.
Behind another huge offensive performance spearheaded by senior quarterback Jarod Blissett, Carthage beat Silsbee 56-40 for the Bulldogs' third playoff win in four years against the Tigers in Friday night's Class 4A Division I Region III championship at TMF Rose Stadium.
Carthage (11-3), which has won seven consecutive games and averaged 44.7 points in that span, plays Waco La Vega (14-0) in a 4A Division I state semifinal next week at a site and time to be determined.
Head coach Scott Surratt is now 35-4 in the playoffs in his nine seasons leading Carthage, which has ended Silsbee's season three times since 2012 -- 50-21 in 2012, 49-6 in 2013, and 56-40 in 2015.
Blissett completed 22 of 33 passes for 421 yards, a school single-game record-tying six touchdowns, and one interception. Blissett enters the state semifinals needing fewer than 150 yards to become the second Carthage quarterback in program history with a 4,000-yard passing season, while also having a chance to break Blake Bogenschutz's single-season school record (4,003).
Three of Blissett's touchdown strikes went to sophomore Dequavius Bowens, who caught four passes for 110 yards with those scoring plays covering 8, 23, and 63 yards. Senior Jakeldric Jackson scored twice and caught seven passes for 146 yards, both game-highs, while sophomore Hunter Townsend caught three passes for 75 yards and a first-quarter touchdown.
Senior running back Ravodney Hardy secured the Carthage win with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs. Hardy gained 135 yards from scrimmage, including 93 yards on 13 carries as he became Carthage's primary ball-carrier with sophomore Keaontay Ingram suffering a game-ending lower-leg injury on his first carry.
Carthage led 42-26 through three quarters before Silsbee forced a fumble on the first play of the fourth and scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Dontre' Thomas to sophomore Tre Lowe less than half a minute into the period to cut the Dawgs' lead to 42-34 after the two-point conversion. Carthage botched the ensuing kickoff and Silsbee recovered and drove into the red zone with a chance to tie the game.
Then came what may have been the biggest play of the game.
Jarrod McLin, a senior defensive end committed to UTSA, picked up a Silsbee fumble at his own 15-yard line and bolted 75 yards to Silsbee's 10 to preserve the 42-34 lead. A penalty moved the ball to the 5-yard line, where four plays later Hardy scored on fourth-and-goal inside the 1 for a 15-point lead with 7:06 remaining.
McLin once again delivered a pivotal play on Silsbee's ensuing possession as his strip-sack forced fumble gave the ball to Carthage with an opportunity for a three-score lead. Hardy scored from two yards with 5:22 remaining to ice the game with a 56-34 advantage.
Carthage allowed more than 500 yards and at least 40 points for the second consecutive game; however, a few Carthage mistakes gave Silsbee a couple of short fields, and the Dawgs' defense made game-changing stops at the most crucial moments, just like the previous week, when McLin had a fourth-quarter interception and a game-saving fumble recovery with a minute left in the 55-48 win vs. Navasota.
Thomas led Silsbee, which finished the season with an 11-3 record, with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Thomas completed 10 of 24 passes for 112 yards, two scores, and one interception. Sophomore running back Adonis Thomas ran 19 times for 122 yards, while Lowe had six touches for 140 yards and two touchdowns (113 yards on only three carries, three catches for 27 yards).
Carthage outgained Silsbee 546-520. Carthage held the passing edge 421-112, while Silsbee gained the rushing advantage 408-125.
Silsbee twice tied Carthage at 7-7 and 14-14 in the first half, but Carthage never trailed. The Dawgs led 21-14 at halftime after the eight-yard Blissett-to-Bowens connection with less than a minute before the break.
Thanks to a three-play, 70-yard drive, Silsbee scored quickly to start the second half, but suffered its first of two third-quarter PAT misses to leave Carthage ahead 21-20.
Carthage then struck twice in about 2 1/2 minutes on Blissett's 23-yard and 63-yard connections with Bowens for a 35-20 lead halfway through the third. Blissett added a 60-yard touchdown toss to Jackson, who carried a defender the final 10 yards to the end zone, for the 42-26 advantage heading to the fourth, setting the stage for Hardy's clutch rushing touchdowns and McLin's second dominant fourth-quarter performance in as many weeks.
The site and time for Carthage's state semifinal against La Vega may not be decided until late Saturday or even Sunday. With AT&T Stadium not hosting games during the semifinal round, the Carthage/La Vega venue situation could be influenced by other semifinal matchups yet to be determined. Follow @etsnfm for updates.