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FOOTBALL: Carthage notches first win over Carl Junction

SoMo Sports staff reports


CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage got into the win column for the first time this season after taking the early lead and never relinquishing it in a 41-28 win on Friday.

Carthage QB Brady Carlton looks for rushing room in the Tigers’ win over Carl Junction on Friday. Photo by Jessica Greninger.

The Tigers scored on the opening drive and built a three-score lead by the end of the first quarter before Carl Junction stormed back to cut the Tigers’ lead to 27-21 at the intermission. The Tigers forced the Bulldogs into a turnover on downs midway through the third quarter and took advantage with a touchdown to build a two-score lead without wavering down the stretch. 

Carthage took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards on five plays to get into the end zone. The Tigers used a 35-yard run from QB Brady Carlton to set up a 6-yard rushing score from Carlton for a 7-0 lead with 9:58 left to play in the first quarter.

After a Carl Junction punt, WR Jackson Hettinger ripped off a 78-yard run before RB Landyn Collins bounced off a tackle and found paydirt from 5 yards out to give Carthage a 13-0 advantage with less than five minutes to play in the opening period.

The Tigers made it three for three in scoring drives when Collins broke off a 14-yard rushing touchdown for a 19-0 lead with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Carl Junction WR Ryder Pyles hauls in a reception in the Bulldogs’ loss Carthage on Friday. Photo by Jessica Greninger.

Carl Junction got on the scoreboard with 10:02 to play in the second quarter after QB Dexter Merrell ripped off a 31-yard touchdown to cut the Tigers’ lead to 19-7 and cap a 70-yard, seven-play drive.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to 19-14 when Merrell found WR Ryder Pyles streaking across the field for a 93-yard touchdown midway through the second period. 

The Tigers responded when Carlton kept the ball up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown run with 4:45 on the clock and converted the ensuing 2-point conversion to give Carthage a 27-14 advantage.

Stewart reversed field for a 17-yard touchdown run on the following Carl Junction drive to get Bulldogs back within one score, 27-21, with less than four minutes to play in the first half.

Carl Junction went for it on fourth down early in the second half but failed to convert, and Carthage took advantage of the short field when Carlton found TE Karson Murray with a jump ball in the end zone on fourth-down-and-10 for a 25-yard touchdown before keeping it for the 2-point conversion to give the Tigers a 35-21 lead over the Bulldogs with 1:50 left to play in the third quarter. 

Carthage RB Landyn Collins picks up a chunk gain against Carl Junction on Friday. Photo by Jessica Greninger.

Carl Junction refused to go away, driving once again on the ensuing possession before Merrell hit Jett Mills in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown to trim the Tigers’ cushion to 35-28 with 8: left in the game.

Carthage put the finishing touches on the win with one more methodical drive that ended with Collins crossing the end zone with 2:39 remaining to give the Tigers a two-score lead, 41-28.

Again, showing no quit, the Bulldogs went into their hurry-up offense with little time remaining and marched down the field into the red zone but turned it over on downs with less than a minute to play.

Carthage (1-3) is on the road against Neosho in Week 4.

Carl Junction (1-3) hosts Branson in Week 4.


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