Photo: Charlton Gladden/TexasHSFootball

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — In familiar fashion, Keyontay Ingram and the Carthage Bulldogs shut down Henderson 35-0 Friday at Stephen F. Austin Homer Bryce Stadium to earn another win and advance to the semifinals of the 4A Division I UIL Playoffs.

Carthage defeated Henderson for the third-straight time, giving the Lions their second early exit of the playoffs, similar to last season.

The Bulldogs defense held Henderson off the scoreboard and star RB Keyontay Ingram went for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The passing game also contributed to the big win with Gunner Capps going 8 of 15, 221 yards passing, two touchdowns, and only one interception. His main target of the night, Dee Bowens, had a big night as well with four catches for 159 yards and a pair of scores.

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Henderson and Carthage traded punts back and forth with no one getting a strong foothold in the first half. Henderson kicker Axel Romero had the chance to give the Lions an early lead with a 42-yard field goal but missed it by just a couple of feet. The defenses kept dominating but, Carthage finally gained a slight advantage with a 55-yard touchdown pass from QB Capps to Bowens pushing the Bulldogs to a 7-0 with 11:52 in the second quarter.

Henderson fumbled the ball on the first play after a Carthage punt, and it looked as if Carthage would score again, but Treylun Blanton picked off Capps for his only interception of the game, giving Henderson had the ball back. After the interception, a huge brawl broke out on the Henderson sideline, and it seemed Ingram would be ejected due to his involvement in the scuffle. No ejections were handed out, but both teams received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and Henderson had the ball deep in Carthage territory.

The Lions could not convert the turnover into points and were forced to punt again.

“We were fine, we just had to keep running at em,’” Carthage Head Coach Scott Surratt said. “And run the football and hit a big play or two on them in the passing game. That’s what we did in the second half.”

From then on, Carthage never looked back.

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On Henderson’s first drive, quarterback Trae Hall threw an interception deep in Lions territory and Carthage took over threating to score. It converted on the turnover as they did all game with Ingram’s big 25-yard run to set the Bulldogs up at the 1-yard line. Ingram finished the drive by running it in, and Carthage now had a two-touchdown lead, 14-0.

Behind Hall, though, Henderson rallied. He threw two big passes and a tallied a scamper to move the Lions quickly down the field into Bulldog territory. But as they had all night, turnovers plagued Henderson as wideout Tyrek Blanton fumbled a pass just short of the end zone, and Carthage took over again. Ingram again came up big for the Bulldogs, setting up Carthage at the Lion 1-yard line.

Ingram punched it again and the Bulldogs went up 21-0.

“They stopped the run last time, but we came in there and was able to run the ball and that’s what we wanted to establish tonight,” Ingram said.

When the fourth quarter started, though Henderson still couldn’t get their offense in the end zone, Carthage had no such trouble. Capps connected to a wide-open Dee Bowens for an 84-yard score and gave the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

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“We knew we’d have a lot of adversity coming into this game, we just had to overcome it and play our game.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, Surratt pulled Ingram and subbed in second-string running back Tucker Smith, who then scored a touchdown of his own to put Carthage up 35-0 with 4:22 left in the game.

Henderson got the ball back with a chance to put points on the board, but fumbled again with 3:23 left in the game for their third turnover of the night, which all but sealed the win for Carthage.

“We had to play hard, and [we knew] they weren’t going to give up on it,” Bowens said about adjusting to Henderson in the second half. “We had to make big plays.”

Hall went 24 of 33, throwing for 229 yards and an interception. Carthage went on to score 21 points off of Henderson turnovers, and earned a matchup with a fellow undefeated team (14-0) La Vega next week.

Carthage faces La Vega 7:30 p.m. next Friday at The Star in Frisco.

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