NACOGDOCHES — For the first time in several weeks, the Carthage Bulldog starters saw action in the second half of the game.
It wasn’t enough time to do much, but it was long enough for the defense to get a couple stops and the offense to put the ball in the end zone one more time.
The top-ranked Bulldogs showed no rust from their lack of playing time over the past four weeks, while the Silsbee Tigers could do little to stop them in the Region III-4A Division II playoff game.
Mason Courtney scored four TDs and Kai Horton completed better than 75 percent of his passes as the No. 1 Bulldogs cruised to a 49-0 win at SFA’s Homer Bryce Stadium.
Carthage improve to 10-0 with the win, while the Tigers fall to 7-3.
The Bulldogs will play Salado, a 28-23 winner over Bellville, in the regional quarterfinals.
Thanks to a COVID-19 forfeit win and a couple of overmatched opponents, it’s been awhile since the top-ranked Carthage Bulldogs have gotten a lot of playing time for its starters.
But Carthage didn’t take much time to show they were all right.
Just 56 seconds into the contest as Courtney scored on a 22-yard run. The score was set up by a long Nate Marry kickoff return.
Courtney made it 14-0 a short time later, going over from the 1 after Horton had completed passes for 10, 20 and 25 yards.
The Tigers put together a good drive against the Bulldogs, only to see the defense stiffen and take the ball over at the 34.
Courtney made it 21-0 early in the second quarter as he corralled a 20-yard pass from Horton for the score.
An Austin Morgan interception set up a 31-yard Horton TD pass from Montrell Smith.
Silsbee managed to have a first-and-goal from the 5 as quarterback Raymond Foster connected with Rueben Hatton twice for big yardage.
But Brandon King picked off his next pass in the end zone to end the threat.
The Bulldogs added one more score in the first half as Horton and Montrel Hatten hooked up on a 40-yard TD.
Courtney, who finished with 82 yards on nine carries, picked up his fourth score of the night on a 15-yard run to make it 42-0 early in the third.
The rest of the half had more penalty yardage than anything else as the Tigers were flagged 13 times for 115 yards in the contest and Carthage had eight penalties for 84 yards.
Tavarius Johnson scored on a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter to account for the final score.
Horton finished the night 15 of 19 for 289 yards. Overall, Carthage was 18 of 23 for 313 yards.