Gunner Capps + Kelvontay Dixon Lead No. 1 Carthage Past Marshall
MARSHALL – It had been 37 years since East Texas “blue bloods” Carthage and Marshall met on the football field.
The much-anticipated reunion didn’t disappoint, as top-ranked Carthage was forced to come from behind to extend its state-best winning streak to 29 games.
Gunner Capps passed for three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 35-32 win on a soggy Friday night at Maverick Stadium.
“It was great atmosphere, what a great crowd,” said Carthage coach Scott Surratt. “I think we outnumbered them for sure, and that’s special. We’ve got a special place in Carthage, and our fanbase is unbelievable.”
Carthage (3-0) rallied from a halftime deficit by scoring on its first two second half-possessions, then survived a late-fourth quarter Marshall (1-2) touchdown to escape with the victory.
Capps, who struggled in the first half of Carthage’s Week 2 win over Liberty-Eylau, was clicking on all cylinders Friday. He completed 17 of 26 attempts for 302 yards.
“That’s what champions do,” Surratt said of Capps. “Last week, he stood up at halftime and said, ‘it’s all on me.’ He didn’t play very well the first half. Then he played a great second half and played a great game tonight. That’s what winners do.”
His favorite target all night was standout junior receiver Kelvontay Dixon, who everyone refers to as “Moochie.” Dixon caught seven passes for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He is the younger brother of University of Texas freshman running back and Carthage native Keaontay Ingram.
“Moochie’s our guy on offense, we’ve got to get him the ball,” Surratt said.
Marshall ran the ball at will on Carthage’s defense in the first half en route to a 24-21 halftime lead. The Mavericks tallied 238 yards on the ground through the first two quarters, and finished with 314 for the game.
Treylin Lewis led Marshall with 141 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
However, Carthage’s defense rose to the occasion after halftime, limiting the Mavericks to only 147 second-half yards and the lone touchdown.
“We were waiting, and if you’re waiting on good athletes they’ll make you look bad in space," Surratt said. "I think we got downhill more in the second half. Our adjustments by (defensive coordinator (Darren Preston) and his staff were great again. We knew If they didn’t score much in the second half we’d have a good shot at them.”
Carthage’s secondary shut down Marshall’s trio of Division I receivers, as Tahj Washington, De’Kendrick Bender, and Savion Williams combined for just seven catches on the night.
“Their receiving corps has got to be as good as anyone in Texas, they’re just phenomenal,” Surratt said. “But we did cover them very well.”
Marshall quarterback JJ Green completed 11 of 19 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He did, however, run 16 times for 113 yards and a couple scores.
“We were expecting JJ to run around on us a little bit, but not that much,” Surratt said. “We were hoping he’d cramp, but he’s a great athlete and in great shape. We just have to tackle better, it gives us a lot to work on.”
Carthage took a 28-24 lead less than three minutes into the third quarter when Dixon found the end zone on a 39-yard catch-and-run. The Bulldogs scored on their next possession when Capps connected with Tucker Smith for a 9-yard TD on a fade rout.
Marshall cut the deficit with 2:29 remaining in the game as Green fired an 18-yard touchdown to Washington, then ran in the two-point conversion.
The Mavericks, who had just one timeout remaining, opted not to try an onside kick, and Carthage was able to run out the remainder of the clock.
Marshall struck first when Lewis raced 63 yards for a touchdown on fourth-and-1, but Carthage had the answer. A 49-yard completion from Capps to Dixon set up a Smith 1-yard scoring run that evened the game, 7-7.
Green and the Mavericks went back in front on the first play of the second quarter, as the quarterback scrambled both directions before weaving his way in between Carthage defenders for an impressive 9-yard touchdown.
Carthage responded immediately, as Smith tied the game at 14-14 with a 3-yard touchdown. The play was set up by Capps’ 51-yard completion to tight end Kaden Holcomb.
“Holcomb is a great receiving tight end, he gives us a force (in the passing game),” Surratt said. “We had some matchups we liked, and we exploited them."
Following a 32-yard field goal by Marshall’s Melvin Salinas, Carthage took its first lead on a perfect pass in-stride to Dixon for a 34-yard touchdown.
But Green regained the lead for Marshall with a 35-yard scoring run with 1:26 to play in the half.
Marshall has a bye next week before opening District 9-5A Division II play Sept. 28 at Lindale. Carthage has a date next Friday night at No. 5 Gilmer (2-1).
No. 1 Carthage 35, Marshall 32
At Maverick Stadium, Marshall
Carthage 7 14 14 0 – 35
Marshall 7 17 0 8 – 32
MAR—Treylin Lewis 63 run (Melvin Salinas kick), 10:20.
CAR—Tucker Smith 1 run (Luis Piedra kick), 6:48.
MAR—JJ Green 9 run (Salinas kick), 11:46.
CAR—Smith 3 run (Piedra kick), 10:55.
MAR—FG Salinas 32, 5:55.
CAR—Kelvontay Dixon 34 pass from Gunner Capps (Piedra kick), 3:48.
MAR—Green 35 run (Salinas kick), 1:26.
CAR—Dixon 39 pass from Capps (Piedra kick), 9:11.
CAR—Smith 9 pass from (Piedra kick), 4:21.
MAR—Tahj Washington 18 pass from Green (Green run), 2:29.
First Downs 15 23
Total Yards 372 458
Rushes-Yards 26-70 43-314
Passing Yards 302 144
Comp.-Att.-Int. 17-26-0 11-19-2
Punts-Avg. 2-27.5 1-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 3-25 10-90
RUSHING—Carthage, Tucker Smith 17-64, Mason Courtney 4-16, Kelvontay Dixon 1-0, Gunner Capps 4-(-10). Marshall, Treylin Lewis 16-141, JJ Green 16-113, Demarcus Williams 2-40, Dominique Williams 3-20, De’Kendrick Bender 1-8, Savion Williams 1-3, Tahj Washington 1-2, Brent Burris 1-(-4), Team 1-(-10).
PASSING—Carthage, Capps 17-26-0—302. Marshall, Green 11-19-2—144.
RECEIVING—Carthage, Dixon 7-162, Smith 4-6, Kaden Holcomb 2-76, Baylor Colle 2-33, Kel Williams 1-17, Hunter Hill 1-8. Marshall, Washington 3-47, Dominique Williams 2-29, Bender 2-26, Williams 2-10, Demarcus Williams 1-18, Jakobe Mitchell 1-14.