CARTHAGE -- Even on an off night, Carthage's victory was never in doubt.

The Bulldogs came out strong but finished flat, still earning a 35-7 victory against Van in the District 10-4A Division I opener. They forced three turnovers and scored three times in the first quarter to jump out to an early lead and never looked back.

So, when Carthage scored with 4:12 remaining in the second quarter, it was hard to believe that would be the final touchdown of the evening. But it dropped several passes and stalled a couple of drives in the second half. A missed 36-yard field goal was the closest the Bulldogs came to scoring after the break.

“We were wide open," coach Scott Surratt said. "We were busting here or there. I’m sick of the bust personally. We’re gonna take care of those. Bottom line, we’re excited about the win. You never apologize about a win, but we’ve got to get better. We can talk about doing special things, but until we get better, there’s nothing special coming out of this group.”

But Friday was mostly good to the Bulldogs (6-0, 1-0 District 10-4A Division I). They improved the state's longest active winning streak to 32 games. The final touchdown gave the Carthage offense reason for excitement. It came on a 30-yard run from Kavonte Brown-Hoskins, a sophomore who was playing his first varsity game. He scored on his first carry.

He nearly scored again on his second, a 12-yard run that was halted at the 3-yard line. He finished with 46 yards and a touchdown on three carries.

“He’s a special player," Surratt said. "He’s been on JV and we’ve been waiting on the time to bring him up. He was ready. He is lightning with the ball in his hands, so we’ve got to get the ball more to him.”

Although the offense struggled, the defense was stalwart. Carthage held Van (4-2, 0-1) to 160 yards and forced three turnovers. The first interception from Jacorey Ware came during what looked to be a scoring drive for the Vandals.

With the ball on the 19, Liam Nielson stepped back and lobbed a pass to Ethan Robinson in the end zone. Although it first appeared Robinson had caught it, Ware wrestled it away and Carthage ended up scoring on the ensuing drive. It was the first big play of many for the Bulldog defense and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.

“They told me to press them so when I pressed them, I turned around and he caught the ball and I put my hand between the ball and him and pulled it," Ware said. "(Going in), we were worried about (Ethan Robinson) and locking him down. Making sure he can’t catch the ball.”

Carthage later got an interception from Rayvon Ingram, who returned it to the 3-yard line to set up a touchdown pass from Gunner Capps to Kelvontay Dixon with 1:45 in the first quarter.

Van's only score of the evening came from Elijah Rankine. He broke a few tackles on his way to a 7-yard touchdown run with a little more than nine minutes in the second quarter. Rankine was the Vandal's biggest offensive threat, finishing with 99 yards rushing on 23 carries.

Capps carried the Carthage offense, throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown. Kel Williams proved his favorite target, wracking up 117 yards on six catches.

Carthage will next face Chapel Hill at 7:30 p.m. Friday in New Chapel Hill. Meanwhile, Van will look to bounce back against Palestine at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Palestine.

Carthage 35, Van 7

At Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

Van         0    7    0    0    --    7
Carthage         21     14   0   0        –    35

First Quarter
CAR – Kelvontay Dixon 8 run (Alberto Garcia kick), 9:06.
CAR – Tucker Smith 3 pass from Gunner Capps (Garcia kick), 1:59.
CAR -- Dixon 3 pass from Capps (Garcia kick), 1:45.
Second Quarter
VAN – Elijah Rankine 7 run (Calen McKinney kick), 9:11.
CAR – Roshabrius Garrett 2 run (Garcia kick), 6:32.
CAR – Kavontae Brown-Hoskins 30 run (Garcia kick), 4:12.

                                           VAN                   CAR
First Downs                          10                        16
Total Yards                           160                   394
Rushes-Yards                  31-108               29-207
Passing Yards                       52                  187
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 9-18-2              16-29-0
Punts-Avg.                       5-32.6              2-35.5
Fumbles-Lost                         1-1                  0-0
Penalties-Yards                     3-12              3-30

RUSHING—Van, Elijah Rankine 23-99, Jayton Moffatt 3-12, AJ Zarate 2-2, Liam Nielson 3-(-5). Carthage, Tucker Smith 11-117, Kavontae Brown-Hoskins 3-46, Roshabrius Garrett 2-19, Mason Courtney 4-11, Jaden Thomas 2-11, Gunner Capps 4-10, Kelvontay Dixon 2-7, Team 1-(-14).
PASSING—Van, Nielson 5-11-2--26, Moffatt 4-7-1--26. Carthage, Capps 16-29-0--187.
RECEIVING—Van, Ethan Robinson 4-38, Bray Doring 3-9, Elijah Rankine 2-5. Carthage, Kel Williams 6-117, Dixon 6-35, Kaden Holcomb 2-23, Tucker Smith 2-9, Baylor Colle 1-8, Roshabrius Garrett 1-(-5).

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