Carthage, Gilmer impress at state 7-on-7 tourney
By Jimmy Carter
July 12, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
LEANDER - A referee turned toward the Carthage sideline with a look of bewilderment during the Division II state 7-on-7 consolation bracket title game Friday.
"Shouldn't they be playing in the 4'oclock game?" the line judge asked, half serious.
The championship bracket title game started at 4. The ref asked the question in the late stages of Carthage's 46-20 win over McGregor, the final victory in an impressive 5-0 Friday run to capture the consolation title.
The five wins, which came by an average of 17.4 points, helped Carthage end the tournament on a positive note after the 1-2 pool play finish that sent it to the consolation bracket Thursday.
"We were disappointed yesterday," senior quarterback Blake Bogenschutz said. "We didn't really play as a team. But we came back today and played as a team. And when you do that, you can only go far."
Carthage beat Abilene Wylie in the first round of consolation bracket play. The Bulldogs added a 39-26 second-round win over Dublin, a 39-13 quarterfinal victory over Grandview and a 26-12 semifinal win over Iraan to advance to the title game.
Carthage trailed 7-0 early in the championship game and led just 20-14 late in the first half before Bogenschutz threw one of his seven title-game touchdown passes to stretch the lead to 27-14 at intermission.
The Bulldogs built on the margin in the second half thanks to several big plays, including multiple impressive jump-ball catches by 6-foot-6 receiver O'Keeron Rutherford.
"It gives me confidence," Bogenschutz said. "At any time I can go to O (Rutherford) one-on-one. There's always an opening in our offense … We've had chemistry we were carrying over from last year, but I think it improved in this tournament."
<strong>GILMER MAKES IT TO CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET QUARTERS</strong>
Gilmer made the deepest East Texas run in the Division II championship bracket, winning its first two games Friday before a 26-20 loss to Graham in the quarterfinals.
The Buckeyes finished the tournament 5-1 after winning their pool Thursday and making it to the round of eight Friday.
"I'm proud of how far we came from the beginning of the year," senior quarterback Tanner Barr said. "We've gotten so much better each and every game. We've come through adversity and everybody's competed well. I'm glad to say that we lost to a great Graham team.
"I'm proud of our boys, but I'm still disappointed that we couldn't win it all. But we played hard."
Gilmer tied Graham 20-20 when Barr hit junior receiver Desmond Pollard for a touchdown and the Buckeyes converted the PAT pass with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
But Graham quickly answered with a touchdown of its own on its ensuing drive. Gilmer was able to move the ball inside the Graham 15-yard line, but time expired after Barr's pass intended for Pollard was tipped away in the end zone.
"We had the play called to throw it up to Desmond Pollard, one of our best receivers," Barr said. "It was a great route, great everything. But the Graham DB just made a great play on it."
Gilmer's defense had a second consecutive impressive day despite giving up the go-ahead touchdown late in the loss. The unit stabilized the Buckeyes when the offense faltered and came up with several key stops in the two wins.
"Being in a tight battle, how to finish a game, this helps with stuff like that," linebacker and Texas A&M commit Josh Walker said. "Covering receivers. Being quick. That'll help on Friday nights. It's beneficial."
Gilmer beat regional foe White Oak 34-12 in the first round of bracket play Friday, then edged Houston Westbury Christian 33-27 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals.
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