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The Carthage Press
  • Carthage plays host to Nixa, dangerous RB Murphy with chance to solidify home district game

  • It was another beautifully-thrown fade pass from senior quarterback Gabe Franklin, and another beautiful catch by senior E.J. Morgan.The five-yard touchdown reception gave Carthage a 45-6 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter last Friday against Branson.But more importantly, the catch was a record-breaker. ...
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  • It was another beautifully-thrown fade pass from senior quarterback Gabe Franklin, and another beautiful catch by senior E.J. Morgan.
    The five-yard touchdown reception gave Carthage a 45-6 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter last Friday against Branson.
    But more importantly, the catch was a record-breaker. It was Morgan's ninth reception of the game, and his 51st of the season, breaking Stephen Poston's school-record 50 receptions during the 2007 season.
    Morgan now has 725 receiving yards this season, and six touchdowns after going for 134 yards and three scores last week.
    Morgan, when asked if it was his best game of the year, said it was "up near the top."
    "I just feel like I can go get it over anybody," he said. "Just look for the ball. Don't worry about getting hit. Just go up and get it."
    Franklin, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns, said it was "definitely" Morgan's best game of the year.
    "Anytime I'm worried and I look to somebody to make a play, it's E.J. every time," he said. "Anytime I step back and see E.J. out there, I have confidence in throwing the ball anywhere I need to and he's going to go up and make a play."
    "He played great," Carthage head coach Jon Guidie said. "He played fantastic. He's got big-play capability but he can also get you on some controlled passes, which is what's so special about him."
    Much of the credit also goes to Franklin, who has thrown for 1,356 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 95 of 150 passes.
    "Gabe's on the other end of those passes to E.J., and I thought he did a great job the other night," Guidie said. "We dropped more passes the other night than we have all year, but Gabe's really playing well and having a really good year for us."
    The Tigers stand at 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Central Ozark Conference. They have scored at least 40 points in each of their last four games, and in five of seven games overall. And, after starting the year 1-2, Carthage has won four games in a row, and a big reason is better first-half performances.
    The Tigers have outscored opponents by 54 points in the first two quarters this season, but were outscored by 30 points in the first half in their first three games combined. Now, in their last four games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by 84 points in the first two quarters, and Carthage averages 32 points before the half in that span.
    "I think that's probably because our young kids are growing up a little bit," Guidie said. "We really didn't anticipate playing as many young, inexperienced kids coming into the year, but for whatever reason we had to and those guys are just getting better every week."
    Page 2 of 2 - With a home game this week against Nixa, the No. 7 team in Class 5, Guidie sees strong similarities between this season and the 2012 season.
    "We were both 5-2 last year at this time, and we had lost to Webb City and Ozark," he said. "This year we lost to Webb City and Carl Junction. We got better and better each week and of course this week was really good to us last year with a win over Nixa, and Nixa was really good last year just like they are this year. It's been real similar in terms of how the two years have played out."
    Carthage won 42-21 at Nixa last season, making a big statement en route to a 7-2 regular season record and a playoff berth. But for the Tigers to do it again, they'll have to buck a recent trend with Nixa. Doing so would have big ramifications for the postseason.
    "We've gone back and forth with Nixa over the years," Guidie said. "Last year we won at Nixa, the year before that we lost here, and the year before that we won at their place. The home team's been losing here in the last few years, so hopefully that doesn't continue. Any win is huge. They're a very good football team in Class 5. It would be huge. I think it would solidify a home playoff game. There's no doubt it would. It's another conference game.
    "They're so well-coached and they don't make a whole lot of mistakes," he said. "They're so sound on what they do offensively and defensively. They're always a difficult match up for us because of their size up front and their depth. This year they've got two 300-pounders on the defensive line, and they're very athletic in the back end. They have a Division 1 running back who's 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. He's a junior but he's already getting looks from Division 1 schools and he sure fits that mold of a Division 1 kid."
    That running back, Alec Murphy, gained 253 yards and five touchdowns on just 10 carries against Ozark last week. And he only played the first half.
    "Their starting quarterback has been out the last two weeks, so it's hard to tell where they're going, but the last two weeks Murphy has been the focal point," Guidie said. "It looks like they want to give him the football and make things about him. We've got to get him before he gets started because with his size and speed, if we let him get going he's going to be very difficult to defend."

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