ARLINGTON — Having momentum is a big thing in sports.
Taking it away from your opponent and having it swing your way can be huge.
That’s just what No. 2 Carthage did Dec. 21 in AT&T Stadium.
The Bulldogs gained momentum right before the half and took control early in the third as they stopped third-ranked Waco La Vega 42-28 to take the UIL Class 4A Division I State Championship in front of a crowd of 16,788.
The Dawgs finish the year 16-0 as they claim their seventh state title during the 13-year tenure of Coach Scott Surratt. The Pirates, who were trying for a repeat, finish the year at 14-2.
“I thought that was big. Huge,” Surratt said. “Once we got the defensive stop — we got a little help from replay to make the drive shorter. Then we hit a couple of big passes to Kelvontay (Dixon). He knows what to do when we get him the ball.
“We know our No. 1 key is running the ball. We felt good having Kelvontay and Kel Williams out there against man (defense). I thought we were more physical. You have to do that to win. We controlled the football and came up with the big plays.”
With the game tied at 14-14 late in the second quarter, Ja’von King picked off a fourth-down pass at the La Vega 19. But instant replay showed he didn’t make the catch so the Bulldogs took over at the 31 with 2:00 on the clock instead.
A steady diet of Mason Courtney quickly moved down the field with three runs picking up 20 yards and a pass from Kai Horton for 10 more. Two passes and another run got the ball to the 20, and Horton hooked up with Dixon, scrambling to his right and hitting his favorite receiver just outside the goal line, with Dixon carrying it in and giving the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead at the half.
A 3-and-out and a punt by the Pirates gave the ball back to Carthage early in the third. Horton immediately went deep down the right sideline, hitting Dixon in stride for a 63-yard touchdown to make it 28-14 and wrap up a bunch of Most Valuable player votes for the senior star.
Another strong defensive stand helped the Bulldogs add on as Courtney broke outside on a fourth-and-1, and he raced 54 yards for his second touchdown of the day.
He would score his third TD of the afternoon from the 1 early in the fourth to pick up his share of Offensive MVP votes.
The duo could both make their case for the trophy as Dixon finished with seven catches for 120 yards and three scores, while rushing for 32 more. Courtney had a season-high 229 yards and three TDs, while catching two for 19 yards.
Horton would have been a good choice as well, as the junior signal-caller completed 16-22-0 for three touchdowns, giving him 49 TD passes for the season.
But when it was said and done, Dixon won the award.
Senior Cole Whitlock picked up the Defensive MVP Award as he led the team with 11 tackles, followed by Mason Bobo with six and Jai Brazier with four.
The Bulldogs limited the Pirates’ offense to 372 yards for the game and 13 passing in the second half.
“We gave up some big plays, but I thought we made more plays in the second half,” Surratt said. “We talked about this being their last game and how they needed to play their best. They (La Vega) made some great plays. We made more.
“To do something special like this — win a state title — to do it once is something. To do it seven times it’s because you have a great administration, you have great coaches, you have great kids and you have a great community. That’s the reason we like Carthage and this school.
“I have one of the best jobs in the state of Texas.”