ARLINGTON, Texas (KXAN) — Carthage flexed its muscle to force three first-half turnovers and run away with a 42-0 win over Wimberley in the Class 4A-Division II championship game Friday at AT&T Stadium.
It seemed like whenever the Texans started to get a head of steam on offense, the Bulldogs would make a play to take the ball away and give its offense a chance to score.
The Bulldogs hit two huge plays in the first quarter in their vertical passing game, both to wide receiver Noah Paddie. The first came on a 4th-and-4 play from midfield when quarterback Connor Cuff hit Paddie with a pass down the sideline. Paddie pulled it in and broke a tackle to walk into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
After Carthage forced a Wimberley punt, Cuff again connected with Paddie on the first play of the next drive for an 82-yard touchdown. The two explosive plays set the tone for the Bulldogs offensively, and the Carthage defense did its job as well.
After Wimberley sophomore quarterback Cody Stoever hit Tru Couch for a big gain down the middle of the field, Carthage’s Jakerrian Roquemore ripped the ball out of Couch’s arms as he was falling to the ground. The pass went for a 40-yard gain, but the Roquemore fumble return went for 42 yards the opposite way.
Carthage intercepted Stoever twice, once in the end zone to cancel out a 15-play, 79-yard drive that ended inside the Bulldogs’ 15-yard line.
For the Texans, Stoever ended the game 10-for-25 passing with 127 yards and two interceptions. Couch notched 93 yards receiving on five catches while Johnny Ball rushed for 97 yards on 23 carries.
“I’ve been coaching this sport for 34 years, and this is one of the most unique teams I’ve been around,” Wimberley head coach Doug Warren said after the game. “There’s no superstars or guys that want the attention on them; they just love to play football. They love coming to work out every day, and it has been a joy. They’ve been so much fun to be around.”
For the Bulldogs, Cuff was named the offensive player of the game with 299 yards on 14-of-22 passing and four touchdowns. Paddie set a 4A-DII record with 191 receiving yards on eight catches with a pair of touchdowns. KD Matlock ended the game with 82 yards rushing on 10 carries. Defensively, middle linebacker Deionate Marry had 11 tackles with two for loss.
Carthage head coach Scott Surratt is now 9-0 in state finals in his 16 years at the helm.
It was Wimberley’s first loss of the season and they end the year 15-1. Both Ball and Stoever said the way the team trusted each other carried them all season.
“A lot of us have been together since kindergarten, and we’ve known each other for a long time,” Ball said after the game. “Even the guys that have come in over the past couple of years have meshed so well, and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
3:58 4Q: Carthage fumbles near the goal line and the Texans fall on it. Wimberley takes over on its own 3-yard line.
11:06 4Q: Wimberley can’t convert a 4th-and-6 and Carthage takes over on its own 32-yard line
End 3Q: Carthage 42, Wimberley 0. The Texans sustain a couple of long drives in the quarter but can’t turn them into points. They’ll have the ball 2nd-and-13 on the Carthage 36-yard line.
1:26 3Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – Larandion Dowden takes it in from two yards out capping a 9-play, 80-yard drive. PAT good. Bulldogs 42, Texans 0
4:09 3Q: Stoever has plenty of time to find a receiver near the goal line, but his throw is behind his intended receiver and it’s intercepted in the end zone. A 15-play, 79-yard drive comes to an unfortunate halt for the Texans and the Bulldogs take over on their own 20-yard line.
5:21 3Q: Wimberley converts a fourth down again on the drive, this one a 4th-and-6 pass from Stoever to ouch down to the Carthage 9-yard line.
9:36 3Q: Wimberley converts a 4th-and-1 on a quarterback run and the Texans have a drive going on Carthage’s side of the field
12:00 3Q: Wimberley receives the second-half kick and a good return is negated by two penalties, one during the return and the other afterward, on the Texans. Wimberley starts the second half at its own 9-yard line.
Halftime: Carthage 35, Wimberley 0. It’s all Bulldogs in the first half of this one. Cuff is 10-of-16 for 239 yards with two touchdowns. Paddie has six catches for 189 yards with two touchdowns and the Bulldogs have forced three Wimberley turnovers. For the Texans, running back Johnny Ball has 61 rushing yards on 15 carries.
0:02 2Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – Terrific play design on 4th-and-2 from the 4-yard line for the Bulldogs. Viencint Cabada slips out of the backfield around the left side undetected and Cuff rolls to his right, then throws it back to Cabada for an easy score. PAT good. Bulldogs 35, Texans 0
1:22 2Q: Cuff to Paddie again. A simple out route but Paddie makes the first Texan tackler miss and takes it 45 yards down the Wimberley 5-yard line.
1:44 2Q: Wimberley has to go for pretty much all the fourth downs they come across, and on 4th-and-11, Stoever’s pass gets knocked down and the Bulldogs will take over at midfield.
5:25 2Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – Cuff finds KD Matlock out of the backfield on a 12-yard playaction pass. PAT good. Bulldogs 28, Texans 0
7:55 2Q: Stoever stands in and takes a big shot while he delivers a pass to Couch, who hauls it in for a 40-yard gain but Roquemore yanks the ball out of Couch’s arms and returns it almost to the original line of scrimmage. Brutal sequence for the Texans as they finally hit a big play in the passing game only to lose the ball. It’s Carthage’s third takeaway of the game.
9:17 2Q: Wimberley forces a punt and they’ll take over with good field position on their own 46-yard line.
10:18 2Q: Wimberley quarterback Cody Stoever has Tru Couch open deep over the middle, but the throw is a hair underthrown and Carthage’s Jakerrian Roquemore steps in front of it and picks it off. It’s the Bulldogs’ second takeaway of the game.
End 1Q: Carthage 21, Wimberley 0. In eight state championship games, Carthage head coach Scott Surratt is 8-0. While there’s plenty of game left for the Texans to mount a comeback, as they did against Cuero in the state semifinals, Wimberley is behind the proverbial eight-ball down three scores to an offense that already has four plays for more than 20 yards.
0:00 1Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – Cuff sneaks it in from a yard out. It’s his first rushing touchdown of the season. PAT good. Bulldogs 21, Texans 0
4:38 1Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – The good punt goes for not. Cuff hooks up with Paddie again for an 82-yard touchdown. Cuff put it right on Paddie in stride and he hauled it in over his shoulder. It’s Paddie’s 18th receiving touchdown of the season. PAT good. Bulldogs 14, Carthage 0
4:49 1Q: A holding penalty derails the Wimberley drive and the Texans punt it away, but it’s a good kick. The low line drive punt takes a big bounce and goes 54 yards down to the Carthage 18-yard line
7:23 1Q: TOUCHDOWN CARTHAGE – On 4th-and-4, Connor Cuff lofts a pass down the sideline to Noah Paddie for 50 yards and a touchdown. PAT good. Bulldogs 7, Texans 0
9:25 1Q: Wimberley tried to convert 4th-and-2 inside the Carthage 30, but the option mesh is bad and the ball comes out. Bulldogs recover it.
11:00 1Q: Carthage fumbles on 4th-and-1, and while the Bulldogs fell on it, they didn’t have the distance to convert the down and Wimberley takes over on their own 43.
12:00 1Q: Carthage won the toss and they want the ball first. Wimberley will get it to start the second half when we get to that point.