KILGORE — Early in Friday night's season opener, the Carthage Bulldogs looked like a team that hadn't had a scrimmage.
An early interception, a fumble, plus a couple of bobbled snaps, the top-ranked Dawgs didn't look like a No. 1 team.
But Kai Horton got them going with a bomb, and Mason Courtney and the ground game started flexing its muscles.
Courtney would score three touchdowns before the night was over and the Bulldogs finished with a 27-7 win over Kilgore.
The Dawgs have next week off before traveling to Orange the following week to take on Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
A fumble and an interception stopped the first two Carthage drives, but the defense held Kilgore in check.
The third time proved to be the charm as Horton went deep to Montrell Hatton for a 53-yard touchdown.
A Braeden Wade interception got the ball back for the Bulldogs and Horton again went deep, hitting Craig McNew for 42 yards to get it close. Courtney would finish the drive from the 2 to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs got the ball back with just 1:19 left in the first half at their own 40. Horton hit Courtney for 15 and McNew for 13. He then used his legs to get it to the 12 on a 21-yard run.
Courtney took it over from there to make it 21-0.
It looked like they would take that lead into the locker room, but they decided to kick it deep and Donovan Adkins returned it 59 yards with Camden Foster making a touchdown-saving tackle.
Kilgore's Dalton McElyea got hot, hitting three straight passes including a 9-yarder to Cade Pippen on a fade to the corner of the end zone.
The lone score in the second half came on the Bulldogs' first possession of the second half.
Carthage put together a nine-play 35-yard drive with Courtney scoring on a 3-yard run. A fumbled snap resulted in the PAT kick never getting attempted.
Courtney finished the night with 77 yards on 17 carries, while Horton was 13-23-1 for 226 yards and the one score. He also ran for 29 yards and was sacked only once.
The Bulldog defense was stingy most of the night, holding Kilgore to minus 25 yards in the first half. The would finish with 24 yards on 25 carries and McElyea was sacked four times.
Carthage finished with 376 yards of total offense, 150 rushing and 226 through the air. Kilgore had 162 yards, passing for 139 yards.
Also getting interception for Carthage were Zay Woods and Freddy Lynch. Javare'a Brown had a fumble recovery.