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4A DI State Championship: Carthage 31, Abilene Wylie 17

INSTANT RECAPS & ANALYSIS FOR THE 4A DIVISION I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

4a-di-final
INSTANT RECAP

GAME RECAP

Defense was expected to be the difference, and after giving up 14 first quarter points, Carthage forced six turnovers and finally got the pro-style offense going in the second half on the way to a 31-17 win over Abilene Wylie in the Class 4A Division I state championship.

Carthage got to the title game by the skin of its teeth, winning three straight playoff games by a total of just nine points. This time, the Bulldogs were able to pull away down the stretch for the fifth championship in school history.

“I could only dream of one, and we’ve got five,” Carthage coach Scott Surratt said. “It’s just great coaches and great players, and it’s hard work.”

Wylie entered the game with the talented duo of Zach Smith and Brooks Pepper expected to receive the bulk of the work on the ground, but it was the passing attack that gave the Bulldogs a spark early in the game.

Smith connected with Gatlin Martin on touchdown passes of 32 and 5-yards – the second of which was hauled in by Martin as he fell out of bounds in the corner of the end zone – and Wylie stormed out to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

But after that early success for Wylie through the air, Carthage settled down and got into a rhythm. Kason Davis hit Dewaylon Ingram on a 25-yard touchdown pass late in the first, Keontay Ingram punched in a 2-yard touchdown at the beginning of the second and Brandon Medrano punched through a 26-yard field goal to cap off a run of 17 straight points for Carthage in the first half.

Wylie’s Cameron Hanna tied the game at 17-17 with a 17-yard field goal just before the break, but the second half was all Carthage.

“We had a lot of big plays,” Wylie coach Hugh Sandifer said. “What a great first half by both teams – for them to take the lead 17-14, and for us to take it down and tie it up. But second half – hats off to them.”

Carthage forced five turnovers in the second half, including three straight tip-drill interceptions in the fourth quarter, to stifle the Wylie offense. Austin Russell was named the defensive MVP after a performance that included a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

“It’s phenomenal,” Surratt said. “That’s great defense. [Defensive coordinator] Darren Preston and his staff – you have to give those guys credit. Offensive guys and the head coach get way too much credit, but our defense won this thing.”

The defensive dominance sparked the Carthage offense to get things moving in the second half as well, as the offensive line began to take control of the battle in the trenches. The line opened consistent holes for Keaontay Ingram, who finished as the game’s offensive MVP after rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

It was a bounce back performance for Ingram, who had three fumbles in a close win last week.

“I think I owed it to the team,” Ingram said. “I knew coming into this game that we can’t afford turnovers. I give all my credit to the offensive line, which helped me take care of the ball.”

Just a week after losing the turnover battle 5-1 and needing triple overtime to knock off China Spring 26-20 in the semifinals, Carthage flipped the script to force six turnovers and give up just one in the win over Wylie.

The Bulldogs scored 21 points off those turnovers, and Sandifer said that was the difference.

“They put a lot of pressure on us defensively,” Sandifer said. “Just way too many turnovers either by our doing or their doing or too many tipped balls – you just can’t do that and give a team like that the ball continually.”

 Brady Keane

CARTHAGE STAYS TRUE TO STYLE IN WIN

Styles win fights. Carthage’s style is built to win big games. That’s exactly what the Bulldogs did again at AT&T Stadium on Friday, beating Abilene Wylie, 31-17. It didn’t start well for Scott Surratt’s squad. The normal ground-heavy Wylie offense beat Cartage over the top for 14 quick points in the first quarter. Carthage would score 31 of the next 34.

“We knew it’d be a long game,” Surratt said. “We were in tough spots for most of our games this year. We were used to close games and our guys never panicked. Our offensive line played great and we wore them down throughout the game.”

Carthage is a slow burn. It marinates opponents. It’s the Carthage way and it led to another championship – this one a little unexpected. Most people close to the Carthage program will tell you that the Bulldogs are a year ahead of schedule. Quarterback Kason Davis is a senior, but star running back Keaontay Ingram will return as one of the top rated 2018 running backs in the state of Texas. The offensive line should be young, but improved. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the state.

The defense stole the show in the second half. For the game, Carthage created six turnovers – four interceptions. Three of those interceptions came off tipped passes – a sign that Carthage was rallying to the football. Defensive lineman Austin Russell recorded two fumble recoveries and defensive back Mekhi Colbert – one of many star juniors set to return – swooped in for two key second-half interceptions.

Carthage peaks at the right time. A positive reflection of Surratt, no doubt. He’s now 5-0 in state title games as a head coach after winning in his lone appearance as offensive coordinator at Texas High. Surratt schedules tough non-district games. He challenges his team. The competition in district also prepares his squad for tight moments. Carthage was in close games all year, and even lost two in district play. But the adversity made the team stronger. It does that with proper leadership.

“Five championships in one program is special. It’s hard work. We went 0-2 in district and now we’re state championships. It’s unbelievable,” Surratt said. “I’m proud of this group. Not a lot of people thought we’d be here.”

Carthage’s fifth title was its most unexpected. Even if it was done in a fashion predictable for Carthage.

– Mike Craven

PRESS CONFERENCES

Carthage 31, Abilene Wylie 17

Carthage 7 10 0 14 31
Abilene Wylie 14 3 0 0 17

Scoring Summary 

1st Qtr. 10:09

Abilene Wylie – Gatlin Martin 32-yard pass from Zach Smith (Cameron Hanna kick)

1st Qtr. 5:55

Abilene Wylie – Gatlin Martin 5-yard pass from Zach Smith (Cameron Hanna kick)

1st Qtr. 0:23

Carthage – Dewaylon Ingram 25-yard pass from Kason Davis (Brandon Medrano kick)

2nd Qtr. 11:55

Carthage – Keaontay Ingram 2-yard run (Brandon Medrano kick)

2nd Qtr. 2:08

Carthage – Brandon Medrano 26-yard field goal

2nd Qtr. 0:04

Abilene Wylie – Cameron Hanna 27-yard field goal

4th Qtr. 8:10

Carthage – Kason Davis 1-yard run (Brandon Medrano kick)

4th Qtr. 3:49

Carthage – Keaontay Ingram 14-yard run (Brandon Medrano kick)

Team Stats

Carthage Abilene Wylie
First downs 18 10
Rushing yards 201 73
Passing yards 141 147
Passing 13-22-1 9-18-4
Punts – Avg. 3 – 40.3 1 – 36
Penalties – Yards 5 – 55 5 – 30
Fumbles – Lost 1 – 0 2 – 2
Third-Down Conversions 4 of 13 2 of 8
Possession Time 31:16 16:44

Carthage Individual Leaders

Rushing – Keaontay Ingram 28-182, Mekhi Colbert 2-20, Kason Davis 11-14.

Passing – Kason Davis 12-21-134-1.

Receiving – Dewaylon Ingram 4-67, Keaontay Ingram 3-23, Josh Gradberg 3-14, Mekhi Colbert 2-30, Kason Davis 1-7.

Abilene Wylie Individual Leaders

Rushing – Brooks Pepper 10-45, Zach Smith 10-25, Cason Grant 1-3, Cameron Hanna 2-0.

Passing – Zach Smith 9-18-147-4.

Receiving –Tyler Henson 2-64, Gatlin Martin 2-37, Ethan Smith 2-13, Cason Grant 2-12, Jonas Lunsford 1-21.

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