FRISCO – Carthage’s Keaontay Ingram turned what he referred to as a horrible night into something truly memorable on Saturday evening at The Star inside Ford Center.
And he did it in the blink of an eye, scoring on a 1-yard run in the third overtime as the Bulldogs broke China Spring 26-20 in a 4A DI semifinal showdown, sending the Cougars home for the season with a 13-2 record.
Meanwhile, Ingram and Carthage (12-2) are going to the school’s sixth state championship game on Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Abilene Wylie. Game time is 4 p.m.
Wylie (12-1) reached the finals, defeating Kennedale 21-13 in the other DI semifinal.
Carthage, 5-2 in its last seven semifinal appearances, will be making its fifth championship game in just 10 seasons under coach Scott Surratt. The ’Dawgs won state in 2008, ’09, ’10 and ’13. The Bulldogs played for the title and lost to A&M Consolidated in 1991 under coach Sleepy Reynolds.
This marked the second time in two weeks the Bulldogs have fallen behind and come back to continue what has been an improbable march to the finals as District 9-4A’s third-place playoff entry.
This was a game of ebbs and flow for not only Ingram, but both of the teams. Ingram, who missed last year’s semifinal loss to La Vega with an injury, surpassed the 2,000-yard barrier with 166 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, giving him 2,039 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns for the season. For Ingram, it was a matter of overcoming three fumbles.
“Keaontay had some ball security issues for the first time in his young career, but kept battling and ran with a mission in the third OT,” said Surratt. “Our fullback Brewster Griffith had a bruising block on the game winner.”
For the ’Dawgs, it added up to overcoming four fumbles, an interception and a missed extra point.
But, they did … with 414 yards and four touchdowns.
In the process the Carthage defense barked, turning the tables on China Spring with the interception of quarterback Cutter Haigood by Colbert in the end zone to start and end the the Cougars’ third OT possession. The ’Dawgs also got key performances by LBs Mykel Gates and Jace Dixon, along with DE Monterio Wilson and safety Mason Graham.
“I thought our defense, especially with our adjustments we made at halftime played better and better. They played hard and had some key timely stops for us,” Surratt continued.
Carthage limited the Cougars to just four first downs, 89 yards and two field goals in the second half. Haigood, who had 103 yards at halftime, finished with 138 on 22 carries. Keaton Dudik followed with 95 yards. Haigood was 7 of 13 for 62 yards early, but just 2 of 7 for six yards with a pick in the final 24 minutes and three overtimes.
The Bulldogs scored first to lead 7-0 as Kason Davis completed a 22-yard strike to Mekhi Colbert with 10:46 left in the first quarter. The score capped an impressive 74-yard opening drive. Brandon Medrano converted the PAT.
Davis was 20 of 36 passing for 237 yards. Both of his touchdown passes covered 22 yards. His second went to Dewaylon Ingram with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs trailed by as many as seven points twice (14-7 and 20-13). The second time, coming with 8:11 left in the third period, following the second field goal by Griffin Kenneaster, 29 yarder. Kenneaster had made a 30-yarder to give the Cougars a 17-13 halftime advantage with just 5 seconds, remaining in the second quarter. The kicker would miss another field goal in regulation and what would have been a game-winner in the second OT.
China Spring answered the initial Bulldog scoring surge with one of its own, coming on a 1-yard completion from Haigood to Kody Fulp, a University of North Texas commit, with 8:32 left in the first quarter.
The Cougars then took advantage of the first of four Carthage fumbles to drive 28 yards in three plays to score on a 22-yard Haigood to Tyrick James completion with 3:59 remaining in the opening period.
Keaontay Ingram tightened the game to 14-13 with a 3-yard scoring run to cap an impressive eight-play, 75-yard Carthage march.
Traveler Surley intercepted a Davis pass in the end zone with 1:44 left to play to dash Carthage’s hopes of winning the game in regulation.
Besides his pick, Colbert led a balanced receiving corps with seven catches for 79 yards. Dewaylon Ingram followed with five for 95, and Bowens added five for 60.
When the time was right, Keaontay Ingram was more than ready, overcoming his fumbles, one of them in OT, and a slow start with runs of 22-, 2- and the one that sealed the victory all in the third OT.
And a memory to last a lifetime.