Kilgore falls at Carthage, 48-23

Top-ranked Carthage wins battle of Bulldogs; KHS to face Midlothian Heritage next Friday in Forney

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CARTHAGE – Prior to Friday night’s regular season finale between old rivals Kilgore and Carthage, Kilgore was the last team to beat the two-time defending 4A state champions, back in October, 2016.

Kilgore remains the last team to beat Carthage, but the date remains the same.

Carthage, the top-ranked team in the state, ran its winning streak to 36 total games, dealing Kilgore a 48-23 loss. Most of the points by both teams were in the first half; each team scored a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Both teams will move on to the playoffs. Kilgore (3-7) will take on Midlothian Heritage in next week’s first round. The Ragin’ Red will face Heritage at Forney next Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Carthage (10-0) is the District 10-4A, Division I champion and will face Waxahachie Life next weekend.

Kilgore quarterback Gus Witt had 101 yards rushing and both of Kilgore’s touchdowns in the game. A.J. Smith ran for 71 yards on three carries. Kennieth Lacy had 45 yards on 12 carries. The passing game didn’t generate much; Kilgore threw the ball 11 times, for 15 yards.

For Carthage, quarterback Gunner Capps was 19-of-32 for 273 yards and three scores, to Kiel Williams, Hunter Hill and Tucker Smith. Mason Courtney was the big gun, getting 167 yards rushing and two scores on 20 carries. Smith had 60 yards and a score on 14 carries, and Roshabrus Garrett had three carries for 40 yards and a score.

Carthage scored first in the contest, driving 71 yards in a little more than two minutes, with Smith going in on a run from 5 yards out.

A short Kilgore possession, a three-and-out, took very little time off the clock and then Carthage received the ball again, after a whopper of a punt (62 yards) by Kilgore’s Efrain Mojica.

Capps guided Carthage downfield again, this time on a 13-play, 94-yard drive, and finished with a 20-yard scoring pass to Williams. With 1:46 left in the first quarter, Carthage doubled its lead to 14-0.

Witt was his own biggest playmaker on Kilgore’s second drive, a 58-yard run that gave KHS a first-and-goal at Carthage’s 8-yard-line. The drive extended into the second quarter, and then Witt went to his right and rolled out for a 4-yard score. Elivan Torres added the extra point and cut Carthage’s lead in half, 14-7, with 11:54 left in the second quarter.

Carthage punched back, mainly with Courtney, who had runs of 33, 12 and 12 yards on the play, and then punctuated the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, putting Carthage back up by two scores, 21-7, with just over nine minutes left in the half.

The back-and-forth continued. Kilgore got a 52-yard run by A.J. Smith on its next possession, getting them into scoring range inside Carthage’s 40, and then Witt pulled his magic again, weaving through defenders for a 24-yard score. Torres’ point after got Kilgore back within a score, 21-14.

The ball was in Carthage’s court, and they did score – a 4-yard pass from Capps toHill – but Kilgore’s Brown came around the edge and blocked the extra point. Donovan Adkins picked up the loose ball and returned it 90 yards the other way, to give Kilgore two points. That left KHS trailing, 27-16, with 5:30 left in the half.

A fumble by Kilgore on first down of its next drive was recovered by Carthage. The defending state champs would score once again, this time on a 28-yard run by Garrett, to go up 34-16.

One of Witt’s passes was picked off at midfield by Jacorey Ware with just over two minutes left until the half, and showing the killer instinct of a defending champion, Carthage drove down and, with help from a pass interference call, got a first and goal at Kilgore’s 2. Along the way, Capps was hit by one of Kilgore’s defensive linemen and appeared to have fumbled the ball. Officials ruled Capps’ arm was coming forward.

With just two seconds left, Carthage coach Scott Surratt elected to go for the touchdown, instead of kicking the field goal and the gamble worked. Courtney scooted in for the score, and a 41-16 halftime lead.

The only Carthage score in the second half was a pass from Capps to Smith, out in the flat that Smith took down his own sideline for a 60-yard touchdown with 5 ½ minutes left. Later, Nesba Brown recovered a fumble by Carthage and returned it 46 yards for a score with just over two minutes left in the game.

Freshmen/JV: Kilgore’s freshmen lost for the first time this season, falling 22-21 at R.E. St. John in what became the district’s freshmen championship game – both teams were 9-0 coming into the game.

Kilgore’s freshmen, coached by Robert Cooley, finished up 9-1.

All the scoring was in the first half. Israel Vasquez scored once, and Davin Rider scored twice, and forced two fumbles on defense.

Kilgore’s junior varsity and Carthage were unable to play their game, due to lightning. Both JV teams were undefeated as well (9-0), and will finish the season as co-district champions. Kilgore’s JV is coached by Jay Dean.

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