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What a difference a week makes. After a ragged performance in the opening game of the playoffs, t

By Rick McPherson
Jan. 10, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.


What a difference a week makes. After a ragged performance in the opening game of the playoffs, the Carthage Bulldogs got back on track Friday night in Porter's Texan Drive Stadium and rolled to a 45-21 win over the Brazosport Exporters.

Brazosport had a 7-3 regular season record and a 4-2 record in district play. The Exporters were led by senior quarterback Jarvis Davis and senior running-back Ameer King. Davis came into the contest with a 59.4 percent completion average having thrown for 1,609 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 previous games.

King posed and even bigger defensive challenge. He was averaging over 200 rushing-yards per game, and had scored 30 touchdowns. The Exporters got to Friday night's game by thrashing the Worthing Colts (4-4) 66-0 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

For its part, Carthage was coming off a 46-10 opening round win over the Huffman Hargrave Falcons. The score was impressive enough, but the play was hardly what one would expect from a number-one-ranked team defending a state championship.

The Bulldogs didn't really need their A-game to beat Hargrave, and they didn't bring it. At least everybody hoped that wasn't their A-game. But playing guys like Davis and King, they needed to take it up a notch. They did. "You could tell it in practice," said head-coach Scott Surratt. "Our intensity level was much higher all week." .

And you could tell it in the game too. Carthage scored first. Following a Mekhi Colbert interception of a Davis pass, the Bulldogs moved quickly to the Brazosport 6-yard line. From there, Keaontay Ingram took it in for the Bulldog touchdown. Alberto Sigala made the extra point kick to make the score 7-0.

On the next series, Brazosport ran 8 plays that moved the ball to the Carthage 27-yard line. Facing fourth and eight, the Exporters threw an incomplete pass, and the ball went over on downs to Carthage.

Carthage mounted a 58-yard drive that reached the Brazosport 15-yardline before running out of steam. Facing a fourth and four, the Dawgs did something they hadn't done all year. They lined up for the first Carthage field goal attempt of the season. From 32-yards out, Alberto Sigala split the uprights to go one for one on field goal attempts in 2017 and make the score 10-0 Carthage.

After forcing the Exporters to punt, Carthage took over at its own 21-yard line. Seven plays later they were at the Brazosport 13. The big play of the drive was a 67-yard completion to Dewaylon Ingram. With 11:58 gone in the first quarter, Gunner Capps found Dee Bowen for the first of four first-half touchdown passes. The Sigala extra-point made the score 17-0.

Capps threw another touchdown pass with seven minutes left in the second quarter. This time the 29-yard pass went to Sam Houston commit, Dewaylon Ingram.

Trailing 24-0, Brazosport finally got on the scoreboard with 2:50 left in the first half. The Exporters scored on a 34-yard touchdown run by Ameer King.

Carthage came right back. After the kickoff the Bulldogs went to work from their own 36-yard line. From there, they moved backward 6 yards, when Capps was sacked. A big pass completion to Mekhi Colbert moved the Dawgs to the 45. A 34-yard completion to Dee Bowen got them to the Brazosport 21. A 21-yard pass to Bowen got them in the end zone with 1:31 left on the clock.

After the kickoff Brazosport ran three plays without picking up the first down. With 30 seconds left in the half they faced fourth and five from their own 32-yard line. They were trailing in the game 31-7. The opposing quarterback had already thrown three touchdown passes. The opposing tailback had gained over 1,500 yards on the season.

Obviously, the outlook wasn't good, but hey – it's high school football – a big third quarter, a couple of breaks, a turnover or two, and who knows, they could be right back in it. There's a couple of different things you might do in that situation but give the Carthage Bulldogs – who were going to get the second half kickoff, mind you – the ball 32 yards from the goal line with enough time to run two, and possibly three, plays isn't one of them.

But that's what they did. Davis overthrew his receiver, and the ball went over to the Bulldogs at the Brazosport 32 with 27 seconds left on the clock. Two plays later Capps threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Dee Bowen. The teams went to the locker room with the Bulldogs leading 38-7.

The Bulldogs got the ball again to start the second half. Wanting to fire up the running game, Carthage gave the ball to Keaontay Ingram on five straight plays. Ingram had a mere 61 yards in the first-half and one TD. His five carries on the opening series of the second half ended with a 35-yard touchdown run, and more than doubled his output for the night. He finished the night with 14 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for an additional 34 yards of offense.

The Ingram touchdown and Alberto Sigalas' extra-point made the score 45-7. Brazosport scored two fourth quarter touchdowns on the Carthage twos to make the final score 45-21. To their credit, the Exporters never asked to run the clock. They were the first team the Bulldogs faced in the last five games who didn't.

On defense Quinton Owens made 9 tackles, three for losses, and two sacks. The Carthage coaches named him defensive player of the game.

Alberto Sigala missed two extra-point kicks against Hargrave. Whatever the problem was, he got it fixed. In addition to his field goal, he was perfect on 6 extra-points. He was named special-teams player of the game.

Gunner Capps, with four first-half touchdown passes, was the offensive player of the game.

Overall Capps had 18 completions on 24 attempts for a total of 301 yards. He was not intercepted in the game. The Bulldogs added 173 rushing yards. They had a total of 20 first downs on their way to 473 yards of offense.

On the other side of the ball, the Carthage defense shut down yet another high-powered offense. In the passing game, Davis hit on just 6 of 23 passes and was intercepted once. The Exporters had 76 passing yards. They picked up another 152 on the ground for 228 yards of total offense. They had 13 first downs.

Carthage fumbled three times and lost all three. Brazosport fumbled once and lost it. Carthage was penalized 6 times for 39 yards. Brazosport was penalized 3 times for 15 yards. Brazosport punted 7 times and averaged 36.29 yards per punt. Carthage had only punted 8 times all year coming in but punted 4 times in the game with an average of 32 yards per punt.

Brazosport goes home for the year with an 8-4 season record. The Bulldogs now 12-0 on the year go on to face the Silsbee Tigers at 7:30 this Friday in Lufkin's Abe Martin Stadium. After getting off to a slow 1-3 start, Silsbee finished the year with a 6-game winning streak to finish the regular season with a 7-3 record. In the playoffs the Tigers beat Center 37-17 and Bay City 52-21.

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