By Chris Parker (OzarksSportsZone.com)
Carthage held off Harrison on the final play of the day to come away with the Parkview 7-on-7 Tournament championship on Thursday.
The Goblins and Tigers ground through five hours of pool play to earn the top two seeds in bracket play. Carthage beat defending champion West Plains in their semifinal game while Harrison took down Nixa.
In the championship, Carthage and Harrison went back-and-forth before a final stand in the end zone gave Carthage a 21-14 victory.
“I felt like we had a lot of growing up to do. This is a pretty inexperienced, immature group. We were short-handed missing five starters. We had some kids playing out of position, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. They rallied around each other and really had a good day,” Carthage head coach Jon Guidie said.
Harrison had the ball on offense first by virtue of earning the top seed. On the second play of the game the Goblins hit on a 40-yard touchdown pass, but failed on the point after to take a 6-0 lead.
Carthage answered with a Patrick Carlton to Marcus Huntley 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 6-6 before taking the lead on the PAT at 7-6.
The Goblins marched down the field and scored on a four-yard touchdown pass to take the lead back at 12-6. Harrison converted on a two-point PAT to go up 14-6.
The Tigers again had an answer with a four-yard touchdown pass. A failed PAT set the score at 14-13.
It was then that the Tiger defense came up big. Harrison got the ball to the four-yard line setting up third-and-goal. Carthage’s defense stood tall on back-to-back plays to keep Harrison out and earn the game-tying point for the defensive stop.
Carthage seized the opportunity.
Carlton threaded the needle to get the ball down to the one-yard line. He would then find Huntley for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We had a 7-on-7 passing league at Monett on Monday, and we just didn’t do as well as I thought we could have and Pat didn’t do probably as well as he thought he should have. To come over here and throw like he (Carlton) did today and make decisions like he did today; I am very happy with him,” Guidie said.
The PAT would be good to give Carthage a 21-14 lead with 90 seconds left in the game.
Harrison would have time for a final desperation heave to the end zone, but Huntley was there to break up the pass and preserve the win.
“He (Huntley) is what he is. He is a handful. It is just like I asked these guys, we are all happy he is on our team. We just have to hone in on some things. He is a playmaker. He is very athletic. He played every snap today, and that is a lot of snaps. For him to come out and play like he did on offense and defense says a lot about him,” Guidie said.
The title itself won’t mean anything come opening night on Aug. 30, but it provides a nice boost for Carthage early in the summer.
“I am just really happy for these guys and out coaches. It has been a frustrating start to our summer. For these guys to rally around each other and play for each other, I thought it was a really good thing today,” Guidie said.
For Harrison, Coach Joel Wells liked what he saw from his team that lost just one game all day.
“I thought we got better all day long. We started off a little big sluggish. Some younger guys who haven’t played a lot of varsity football really started to get the speed of the game. We really started to make plays in tight spaces as the game went on. I felt like we got better, but Carthage just made one more play than us at the end,” Guidie said.