JACKSONVILLE — It took awhile for the Carthage Bulldogs to get their passing game started Friday night in the historic Tomato Bowl.
Blame it on the lightning delay that made the game start 40 minutes late despite sunny skies.
Or blame it on the fact the Bulldogs are trying to replace an all-state quarterback with two guys who threw one pass between them last year in varsity competition.
The passing game did come around eventually, but not before the ground game had shown it was just reloading.
The Dawgs ran through the Jacksonville defense at will, rushing for 203 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-0 win over the Indians.
Carthage will have its home opener next Friday night with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Bulldog Stadium against Liberty-Eylau.
“The slow start was partly my fault,” head coach Scott Surratt sad. “We wanted to throw it around and they were doubling our receivers, forcing us to run. So we did. We could have run all night, but we didn’t want to have that physical kind of game.
“So we went back to throwing. But even with the slow start Kai (Horton) ended up completing 50 percent of his passes and Anthony Wilson completed all four of his.
The passing game actually outgained the ground game with a strong second half — 283 to 203 — despite the fact the first five passes were incomplete along with an interception and they completed just two of the first 10;
But most of the success came after Mason Courtney had rushed for 117 yards and two scores and Jaden Thomas had 61 yards and a score.
Carthage wasted an early scoring opportunity as Kylon Lister intercepted a pass Quinton Owens tipped in the air and gave the Dawgs the ball at the 22.
However, three incomplete passes and an interception of a tipped pass and the ensuing return put the Indians back in business near midfield.
As it turned out, that was the lone big play for the home team in the first half as they had just 13 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes.
Five runs by Courtney and a facemask penalty tacked on the end of a 20-yarder, put the Bulldogs up 7-0 midway through the opening period.
Thomas made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter from the 1.
Kelvontay Dixon got into the scoring column later in the period, taking a 12-yard pass from Kai Horton in the end zone.
Courtney would match it with a 12-yard TD run of his own in the closing seconds of the first half as the Bulldogs held a 28-0 advantage.
The Dawgs returned to the passing game in the third quarter and things worked a lot better.
Horton hit Craig McNew with a 39-yard touchdown in the third and then hooked up with Dixon from 12 yards out to make it 41-0.
Wilson got his turn from there and he was red-hot from the start, connecting on all four of his passes.
The second one was the biggest as he threw a short pass to Nathaniel Marry, who spun away from the defense and took off for a 38-yard touchdown.
The Carthage defense gave up just 16 yards rushing on the night and 47 yards passing, but the Indians didn’t have a completion longer than 13 yards and were 13-25-1.
“The defense did a great job getting the shutout,” Surratt said. “In order to get one, the second team has to play well, too. And they did a good job shutting Jacksonville down.
“We ran to the ball well, we talked well and we were able to get off the field on third down. THat was a good start by that group. We made some mistakes, but Coach (Darron) Preston and his staff will get them corrected.
Jai Brazier, Mason Bobo and Cole Whitlock led the Bulldogs in tackles with six each, while D.J. Hicks had five and Rayvon Ingram had four. DeAundre Bowman had two stops and three passes broken up.
Horton finished 14 of 27 for 221 yards and three touchdowns, while Wilson was 4 for 4 for 62 yards and a score.Carthage 48, Jacksonville 0
Carthage 7 21 20 9 — 48
Jacksonville 0 0 0 0 — 0
First Downs 20 5
Rushing 30-203 14-16
Passing yds 283 47
Passes 18-31-1 13-25-1
Punting 0-0 6-30.8
Fumbles/lost 4-2 0-0
Pen-Yds 1-8 7-52
C — Mason Courtney 1 run (Brennan Phillips kick) 7:39
C — Jaden Thomas 1 run (Phillips kick), 14-0, 9:53
C — Kelvontay Dixon 12 pass from Kai Horton (Phillips kick), 21-0, 5:08
C — Courtney 12 run (Phillips kick), 28-0, 0:55
C — Craig McNew 39 pass from Horton (Irvin Jimenez kick), 35-0, 10:46
C — Dixon 12 pass from Horton (kick fails), 41-0, 7:01
C — Nathaniel Marry 38 pass from Anthony Wilson (Jimenez kick), 48-0, 2:32
RUSHING – (C) Mason Courtney 10-117; Jaden Thomas 6-61; Nick Stewart 8-33; Kelvontay Dixon 2-13; Kai Horton 2-1; TEAM 2-22; (J) M. Williams 3-12; Carpenter 1-5; B. Tatum 5-4; Richardson 5-(-5).
PASSING – (C) Horton 14-27-1, 221; Anthony Wilson 4-4-0, 62; Patrick Clater 13-25-1, 47.
RECEIVING – (C) Craig McNew 3-79; Braeden Wade 3-33; Kelvontay Dixon 3-32; Montrell Smith 2-54; Nathaniel Marry 2-41; Kel Williams 1-12; Nick Stewart 1-11; Cade Dixon 1-10; Jaden Thomas 1-8; Courtney 1-3; (J) Carpenter 6-21; Freeney 5-21; Gibson 1-5; Canady 1-0.
RECORDS – Carthage 1-0; Jacksonville 0-1.