By Tucker Stephenson
That’s how the Carthage Bulldogs (14-0) wrapped up their 2020 campaign following a 70-14 decimation of Gilmer at AT&T Stadium to clinch the Class 4A Division II state title on Friday.
It was the eighth state championship for Carthage under head coach Scott Surratt since 2008 as the Bulldogs continued to cement their place as one of the preeminent programs in the state of Texas at any level. Surratt upped his record in state championship games to a perfect 8-0.
“It means everything,” Surratt said when asked what the program’s success has given the Carthage community. “It gets tougher every year because they expect more every year, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. They love winning and we’re going to continue to win just because I’ve got great coaches and we’ve got some good players coming.”
Gilmer came out swinging with an onside kick, and although it failed, the Buckeyes (14-2) followed with a quick score. Gilmer doubled its lead at 14-0 when Rohan Fluellen hauled in his second touchdown pass from Brandon Tennison with 7:12 to go in the opening quarter.
From there, however, Carthage locked Gilmer in a torture chamber as it rattled off a string of 70 consecutive points to tie a state title game record. Along the way, running back Mason Courtney erupted for 244 yards and three touchdowns, while defensive back Brandon King recorded an eye-popping four interceptions, including two that were returned for scores in the first half.
To the surprise of nobody, Courtney and King were named the respective Offensive and Defensive MVPs of the game.
“We’re something special,” King said of his team.
The Bulldogs righted the ship immediately after Gilmer’s two early scores and began their scoring barrage when quarterback Kai Horton caught a throwback from receiver Craig McNew and followed his blockers for an 18-yard TD.
Carthage then buried Gilmer for good under a 35-point avalanche in the second period. The outburst included a 37-yard scoring run by Courtney, a pair of TD tosses from Horton to Braeden Wade and Davonte Brown-Hoskin and King’s pair of pick-sixes.
Up 42-14 at the half, the Bulldogs tacked on four more TDs in the final 24 minutes to tie Stephenville’s mark for most points scored in a 4A state title game.
Carthage saw Courtney break free for runs of 69 and 23 yards, and Horton connected on his third TD throw of the afternoon after finding Montrell Smith for a 15-yard score. The record-tying TD came courtesy of Javarian Roquemore, who tallied a 4-yard TD run with 4:11 remaining.
Horton finished 12 for 22 passing for 243 yards and three scores while spreading the ball around to six different receivers. Brown-Hoskin led the committee with his two grabs for 66 yards and a score.
All in all, it was an absolute clinic put on by Carthage, which outscored its 2020 playoff opponents by a combined tally of 244-42.
“I mean, it’s pretty simple,” Courtney said. “Do you want to be remembered or do you want to be forgotten? We want to be remembered, so we’re going to do everything we can to win.”