REPUBLIC, Mo. — The only thing able to stop the Carthage offense on Friday night ended up being the game clock.
Carthage scored touchdowns on nine of 10 drives — its only missed opportunity coming at the end of the game as the time expired — to overwhelm Central Ozark Conference foe Republic for a 63-29 win at Republic High School.
It marked a 16th consecutive win for the defending Class 5 state champion Carthage (7-0, 7-0 COC), and it secured an opportunity to claim the COC title outright with a win over Nixa next week at home in the regular-season finale.
“I’m really proud of these kids because it’s tough on a 16-, 17-year-old kid to not look ahead,” Carthage coach Jon Guidie said. “We tried to keep them grounded and focused this week, and they did a good job of using all of their energy and focus on Republic and not next week.”
Carthage again put up gaudy offensive numbers as it totaled 579 yards, with 504 of them coming from the backfield duo of senior quarterback Patrick Carlton and sophomore running back Luke Gall. Carlton and Gall also accounted for four touchdowns apiece.
The offensive boost was needed early as Carthage’s defense struggled to defend the big play against Republic. In the first half, Republic quarterback Gavyn Beckner had three touchdown passes of 60 yards or more, with the final one coming on a screen pass to speedy wide receiver Landon Porter, who went 80 yards for a score that brought Republic to within 35-21 of Carthage with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
Fortunately for Carthage, its offense simply wouldn’t let Republic (2-6, 2-6) keep pace.
Carthage went on to score two more touchdowns before halftime — one on a 68-yard run by Gall and another on a six-yard run by Carlton — to extend the lead to 49-21. An onside kick recovery and a turnover on downs by Republic also helped Carthage balloon its halftime lead to 28 points.
Out of intermission, Carthage tacked on two more touchdowns with a four-yard run by Gall and a one-yard run by Ashton Lancaster to force a running clock for the majority of the second half.
The Carthage defense, following a shaky start, didn’t allow a score to Republic in the second half until its reserve players took to the field on Republic’s final drive in the fourth quarter.
“We felt like maybe we would give up a few (big plays) tonight,” Guidie said. “They’re a tough team to defend, and their quarterback is really good at scrambling and buying time. … We gave up some long-yardage plays, but we got that fixed at halftime and came out and played a lot cleaner.”
The Carthage offense scored seven touchdowns in the first half as Carlton and Gall combined for 364 yards and six touchdowns in the ground game. Gall scored on runs of 11, 19 and 68 yards, while Carlton scored on runs of 1, 54 and 6 yards and threw for another on a 30-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Hudson Moore.
Carlton finished with 262 yards on 20 carries and also completed six of eight passes for 66 yards.
“Our offensive line is fantastic,” Carlton said. “They come ready to play every week, and they’re tough, physical guys. I have all of the trust in the world in those guys, and they’re the reason we were able to execute as well as we did offensively tonight.
“We’re still undefeated since (the midway point) of last season. We just have a lot of confidence right now, and we’re looking forward to playing for a conference championship next week. We’ll be ready.”
Gall totaled 176 yards on 15 carries for Carthage, while Moore finished as the team’s leading receiver with 54 yards on four catches.
For Republic, Beckner completed 12 of 22 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target, Porter, tallied 155 yards and two touchdowns on four catches while running back Ezekiel Meads had one 72-yard touchdown catch.