By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Carthage isn’t new to this…
The Tigers have played in big games, lousy weather and against some of the best teams in Missouri. Keep in mind, these are the same Tigers that have been to the Class 5 Final Four in two of the last three years.
So on Friday, when those three factors collided in the form of Class 6 No. 10 Joplin, Carthage was ready for the challenge.
Carthage dominated both sides of the ball en route to a 35-14 win at The Haff.
“We knew Joplin was going to come out and throw some haymakers early,” said Carthage coach Jon Guidie. “We had to whether it. When it happens, you might get hit a couple of times. But then you go back and rely on your training, rely on your experience and rely on your discipline. Those three things all came into play today.”
Guidie was familiar with just how explosive Joplin’s offense was, so he challenged his guys. To rise to that challenge.
The Tigers defense forced three turnovers and held Joplin to a season-low 4.7 yards per play, leading Carthage to a dominant 35-14 win.
Senior defensive back Jayden Morgan solidified his case as the area’s best cover corner by blanketing all-state receiver Zach Westmoreland. The junior finished with 78 yards, roughly half of his season average.
“It was a big challenge defensively; they’re good, they’re good at what they do,” said Guidie. “They’re big, experienced upfront and they have some playmakers that they get the ball to.
But as a coach it’s very gratifying to challenge these guys defensively and show them what they’re going to get and for them to take it to heart and play as hard as they did, compete, despite the two turnovers in the first half. They battled all game.”
The defense set the tone with a stop to open the game, forcing Joplin to turn it over on downs. From there, it was haymaker after haymaker with Carthage welcoming the Eagles to the COC through physical, grown-man football.
Carthage rushed for 393 yards, attempting just four passes all night, but a large source of offense came from an unlikely source.
Sophomore quarterback Patrick Carlton scored four touchdowns on just 12 carries, operating out of a “tank” formation that he didn’t have much experience in.
“To be honest, we put it in yesterday and ran it twice in practice,” said Guidie. “It was a good package, we may have to use it a little bit more. Our kids executed it very well.
“Patrick is a big kid and he runs hard. Very pleased with that.”
Tyler Mueller led the way with 107 yards on 20 carries. Tucker Downing added an even 100 on just five rushes and quarterback Zeke Sappington rushed for 82 yards.
Joplin was led by Isaiah Davis, who rushed for 79 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. It was the first time in his career he failed to rush for 100 yards when receiving at least 20 carries. Westmoreland finished with 78 receiving yards and added 24 more on the ground.
Quarterback Blake Tash passed for 150 yards.
Carthage has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 18 points. They’ll look to continue that trend next week when they travel to Neosho. Joplin will look to end its two-game losing streak at home against Republic.
Carthage 35, Joplin 14
Joplin 0-7-0-7 — 14
Carthage 14-0-7-14 — 35