Carthage head football coach Jon Guidie said his team’s goal was to score at least 40 points Thursday night against Marshfield, and the Tigers are 25-0 in the last four years when they hit that mark.
Well, how about 80?
The Tigers dominated in nearly every aspect of the game, scored 54 points in the second quarter alone and led 60-14 at the half en route to an 80-22 thumping of the visiting Bluejays at K.E. Baker Stadium in the first round of the Class 4, District 4 playoffs.
Carthage led just 6-0 after a quarter of play after a 6-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Gabe Franklin that capped a 97-yard drive which consumed six-and-a-half minutes.
Things started unraveling for Marshfield on the first play of the second quarter. Facing a fourth down from their own 32-yard line, Bluejays’ quarterback Blayne Armstrong threw incomplete on a fake punt attempt. Carthage senior EJ Morgan caught a 20-yard touchdown pass two plays later, and Carthage led 12-0. But not for long.
Sophomore Alex Derryberry recovered a pooch kick at the 29, and senior Cameron Priester scored on first down to make it a 20-0 game after the two-point conversion.
Marshfield answered at the 9:17 mark to pull within 20-6, but the Tigers came back with a 6-yard touchdown catch by senior Kennan Harrison, and sophomore Dausen Gourley’s reverse run on the two-point try made it a 28-6 game.
Carthage then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the 30, and on first down Morgan caught a touchdown pass. 36-6.
Then a surprise onside kick was recovered by junior Alex Kennedy, and Franklin threw to Harrison on third down for 50 yards and another score. 44-6.
Carthage added a 21-yard touchdown catch by Morgan at the 3:41 mark to go up 52-6, and sophomore Kendall Young intercepted an Armstrong pass and returned it for a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining. The only hiccup was a Carthage fumble in the end zone, but the Tigers led 60-14 at the break.
“We were pretty fortunate in the first half,” Guidie said. “Our kicking game really made some plays. We recovered those three kicks and that was a big key. Our defense played very well, but the kicking game not allowing their offense on the field was huge for us because they’re very, very good at what they do.”
Carthage added three scores in the second half with a turbo clock running, and held Marshfield to just eight points in the fourth quarter.
And, against a team that averaged 57 points in each of its last four games, and had scored at least 46 points in five games this year, the Carthage defense limited Marshfield to just 223 offensive yards on Thursday, and just 106 through the air. Keep in mind Armstrong had thrown for more than 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns in nine games.
Page 2 of 2 - “Honestly, and I say this every week, but coach (Chris) Edwards and the defensive staff did a fantastic job preparing for these guys,” Guidie said. “They did a great job getting our kids prepared.”
And, despite rain nearly every day this week, the Tigers still managed 500 yards of offense on a soggy field.
“They made the decision to cover it on Monday with plastic,” Guidie said of the field conditions. “The maintenance staff stayed out late on Monday night getting that done and then they were as late as possible getting it off today. They worked really hard on that field and made it playable for us tonight and I really appreciate that.”
Franklin completed 11 of 15 passes for 182 yards and three scores. He rushed 16 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Morgan caught seven passes for 113 yards and three scores, and Harrison had two catches for 56 yards and a score. Priester rushed six times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers will make the familiar trip west next Wednesday to tangle with Webb City, the top seed in the district. The Cardinals blanked McDonald County 56-0 Thursday, and defeated Carthage 42-7 in week three.