NACOGDOCHES -- There was drama and tension In the much anticipated rematch between Highway 79 rivals Carthage and Henderson.

For one half at least.

Top-ranked Carthage broke open a one-score game with 28 points after halftime for a dominating 35-0 rout Friday night at Homer Bryce Stadium in the Class 4A Division I, Region III final.

The defending state champion Bulldogs (14-0) won their 24th-straight game and advanced to next week's state semifinals, and will face No. 4 Waco La Vega at 7:30 p.m. Friday from the Ford Center in Frisco.

For two quarters, the game lived up to its billing.

With Carthage leading 7-0 late in the half, Henderson's Treylun Blanton returned a Gunner Capps interception 32 yards down Henderson sideline into Carthage territory.

That's when emotions on both sides boiled over.

A brief melee broke out with officials and coaches from both sides scurrying to break it up. Following a lengthy discussion, offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were assessed, but there were no ejections.

“We talked about it all week," said Carthage coach Scott Surratt. "The emotions were gonna be running high because it is Henderson. There was a lot of social media sent out. But we can’t do that. We could’ve lost a player or two for the game, so I think we’ll be doing a little extra conditioning Monday.”

Henderson wasn't able to capitalize on Carthage's end of the field -- a common theme throughout the night -- and went into the locker room with a seven-point deficit.

The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns off Henderson turnovers in the third quarter to build a 21-0 lead, and added two more scores in the fourth to finish it off.

“Our defense has created turnovers all year, and we took care of the ball for the most part except for the one interception," Surratt said.

Henderson had six drives end inside Carthage territory, three of them ending on fourth down and one on a fumble.

Mekhi Colbert had an interception and fumble recovery to set up Carthage's two touchdowns in the third quarter.

“Mekhi’s a great player on both sides of the ball," Surratt said. "We were worried about throwing the ball out here a little bit or he would’ve caught some balls. But he’s gonna be around the ball, and he’s gonna pick some balls, and he’s always creating fumbles. He’s just a great player.”

Carthage senior running back Keaontay Ingram, after a slow start, finished with 111 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Both of his scoring runs came from 1 yard out following Colbert's takeaways.

Ingram, the University of Texas commit, had just 28 yards on 10 carries before halftime.

“We weren’t happy with how we ran it in the first game, and we weren’t happy in the first half how we ran it," Surratt said. "We had to be more physical, and I think you saw that the second half.”

For the second time this season, Henderson's defense had no answer for Carthage senior receiver Dee Bowens. He had touchdown receptions of 55 and 84 yards Friday night, after catching a pair of 70-yard scoring bombs in their Oct. 6 meeting in Henderson.

“We were getting one-on-one’s and it surprised us a little bit with how much one-on-one they played us because they were controlling our run game," Surratt said. "But you get him one-on-one or Dewaylon Ingram one-on-one, Mekhi Colbert one-on-one, then we like our chances.”

Bowens had four catches for 159 yards, while Capps was 8 of 15 passing for 221 yards.

The two hooked up for the 55-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.

“We had a post corner called with (Bowens), and we knew he was gonna be open with the safety pushed over like that," Capps said. "He’s got great route-running skills, and I couldn’t have done it without my line to give me time to put it on the money for him and let him go score.”

Their 84-yard hookup came on the first snap of the fourth for a 28-0 lead.

“That goes back again to his route-running," Capps said of the second Bowens touchdown. "He’s gonna outrun (defensive backs), mix everybody up, and he’s gonna be wide open 90 percent of the time.”

Henderson senior quarterback Trae Hall passed for 229 yards on 24 of 33 passing. Blanton had 11 catches for 116 yards, while sophomore Caleb Medford finished with nine receptions for 92 yards.

Carthage 35, Henderson 0

Class 4A Division I
Region III Championship
At Homer Bryce Stadium, Nacogdoches

Henderson                 0      0      0      0    --      0
Carthage                    0      7    14    14    --    35

Second Quarter
CAR--Dee Bowens 55 pass from Gunner Capps (Alberto Sigala kick), 11:52.
Third Quarter
CAR--Keaontay Ingram 1 run (Sigala kick), 9:53.
CAR--Ingram 1 run (Sigala kick), 4:46.
Fourth Quarter
CAR--Bowens 84 pass from Capps (Sigala kick), 11:47.
CAR--Tucker Smith 3 run (Sigala kick), 4:22.

                                             HEN                   CAR
First Downs                                17                      16
Total Yards                                250                    395
Rushes-Yards                         25-21              31-174
Passing Yards                           229                    221
Comp.-Att.-Int.                     24-33-1              8-15-1
Punts-Avg.                            3-38.3               1-54.0
Fumbles-Lost                              4-3                   0-0
Penalties-Yards                         8-49                  6-45

RUSHING--Henderson, Lynn Freeney 8-34, Trae Hall 15-0, Kourtland Jackson 1-(-2), Treylun Blanton 1-(-11). Carthage, Keaontay Ingram 18-111, Tucker Smith 4-51, Mekhi Colbert 1-18, Chad West 4-12, Jackson Blissett 2-(-4), Gunner Capps 2-(-14).
PASSING--Henderson, Hall 24-33-1--229. Carthage, Capps 8-15-1--221.
RECEIVING--Henderson, Treylun Blanton 11-116, Caleb Medford 9-92, Jackson 1-13, Tyrek Blanton 1-11, West 1-1, Keshoyn Alexander 1-(-1). Carthage, Dee Bowens 4-159, Dewaylon Ingram 2-34, Keaontay Ingram 1-19, Colbert 1-(-1).

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