Carthage’s Run At State 7-on-7 Tournament Ends With Narrow Quarterfinal Loss to Argyle
COLLEGE STATION -- Carthage head football coach Scott Surratt will be the first to declare that state championships in December aren't won during the preceding summer 7-on-7 competition.
And he should know. Four state championships since 2008 are proof of that.
But the Bulldogs' boss must have been able to take comfort in his team's performance at the Division II state 7-on-7 tournament.
Following a perfect run during Thursday's pool play, Carthage won its first two single-elimination games Friday morning at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex, before falling to Argyle, 32-25, in the quarterfinals.
Carthage was the last of three East Texas teams standing in the Division II championship bracket. Palestine fell in the first round Friday morning, and Harmony was ousted by Carthage in the Round of 16.
The Bulldogs, who won the 2013 Division II consolation title, had never begun the state 7-on-7 tournament with five consecutive wins until Friday.
Carthage briefly led Argyle, 19-18, in the early stages of the second half by scoring on its second snap -- a 1-yard toss set up by a 44-yard bomb downfield from Kason Davis to Dewaylon Ingram the play before.
But Argyle scored on its next two possessions -- sandwiching a Carthage three-and-out -- to build a 32-19 advantage.
Carthage turned it over on downs on its next series, but the Bulldogs defense returned the favor on the ensuing Argyle possession. Carthage quickly cut its deficit to 32-25, and forced another Argyle three-and-out.
However, on the final play of the game, Davis' short toss to Keaontay Ingram, came up about 20 yards short of the end zone.
"We were doing well; we had a few mess-ups in the last game but we picked ourselves up," said Carthage senior cornerback Nicholas Moore. "It brought us together. We had a little argument, but we came together, and tried to come back. It just didn't work out."
The Carthage defense stood out both days in College Station, allowing an average of 16.2 points in the six games. Carthage limited three opponents to seven points or less.
Moore and fellow cornerback -- junior Mekhi Colbert -- led the charge with lockdown coverage of outside receivers. Junior linebackers Ahmad Brown and Mykel Gates patrolled the middle of the field nicely for the Bulldogs as well.
"Just like Coach Surratt said, 'This really doesn't mean anything, but it helps; it gets us better for the season,'" Moore said. "We're just going to carry this (with us) -- no losses during the season."
Offensive standouts included Davis, junior running back Keaontay Ingram, senior receiver Roderick Calloway, and junior receiver Dee Bowens.
Carthage will begin official workouts for the 2016 season on Aug. 1. Expectations are high once again for the Bulldogs, who are hoping to build off last season's run to the Class 4A Division I semifinals -- a place where Carthage's year ended with a 39-3 loss to eventual state champ Waco La Vega.
"We've been talking about how we don't want to end our season like that," Moore said. "We've got to keep working hard during the summertime."
Carthage rallied from a 27-19 deficit to Lorena in the final minute of its opener Friday morning.
Following a first-down completion to Bowens, Davis connected with Calloway in the back of the end zone as time expired in regulation. The Bulldogs tied the game with a two-point conversion from Davis to Bowens.
Carthage went on offense first in overtime, and scored on a second-down pass to Calloway, and went up 34-27 when Davis connected with Bowens for the extra point.
Argyle scored quickly on its OT possession, but Moore deflected the extra-point attempt in the end zone to seal the thrilling win.
That set up an all-East Texas matchup in the Round of 16 between Carthage and Harmony.
The Eagles drew first blood with a TD toss on fourth-and-goal capping their first drive of the game, but Carthage scored the game's final 20 points.
Bowens caught a short scoring pass before the halftime to trim the Harmony lead to 7-6, and Carthage scored a pair of touchdowns in rapid fashion late in the second half.
Davis connected with Calloway on a 45-yard bomb for a 13-7 lead, and Colbert returned an interception for a touchdown on Harmony's first play of the ensuing series.