Two high-flying offenses were on the display at Carthage Friday. Unfortunately for Republic, Carthage’s offense flew higher in a 54-34 win. The teams combined for more than 900 yards of total offense, including 560 yards by Carthage, but Republic’s defense couldn’t find an answer for Carthage’s many offensive weapons.
The game started with the two offenses slugging it out. Both teams scored on their first two drives. Carthage went 67 yards in four plays before Republic answered with a 12-play drive that also covered 67 yards. Riley Sigman plunged in from one yard out, and after Carthage had missed its extra point, Republic made its point-after to take a 7-6 lead. Carthage scored again two minutes later to go up 13-7, but Republic put together another long scoring drive. That one covered 65 yards and lasted 10 plays. It ended with a 16-yard pass from Lucas Hayes to Sigman to make it 14-13 Republic.
With the offenses trading scores, one of the key moments of the night happened on Republic’s next drive after Carthage had re-taken the lead. Republic faced a 4th-and-1 in its own territory and lined up to try for the first down, but a false start backed the teams up five yards and forced Republic to punt. Carthage scored on its next possession – on the very next play, when Marcus Huntley went 74 yards on a sweep. The touchdown gave Carthage a two-possession lead and Republic’s offense never had a chance to take the lead again all night.
“We’ve been pretty good in short yardage situations all year, and not only goal-line, but in the middle of the field, even on our own end. Riley has a really good knack for finding a small gap and getting in it and getting the first down, so we felt like we had a pretty good play for it,” coach Dustin Baldwin said of the 4th-and-short situation.
Both Sigman and Josh Sterling had their best games of the year. Sigman ran the ball 24 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 38 yards and another touchdown.
Sterling had a career-high 10 catches for 98 receiving yards. He also had seven rushing yards to put him over 100 yards for the night.
Hayes was as accurate with his arm as he’s been all year, completing 19 of 26 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 18 rushing yards.
Gavin Walker had five catches for 44 yards and a TD. Skyler Lock also had a reception.
“Offensively, you’ve got to give the line a lot of credit. I thought it might have been our best game from a blocking standpoint, and we did a lot of good things,” said Baldwin. “Skyler Lock came in and started at receiver and blocked his rear end off. I’m super proud of that kid. He’s been working all summer and fall, just playing special teams and kind of sticking with it. He was doing so many things right in practice, I [said], ‘Let’s just start him.’ He had to block a 220-pound all-state type linebacker several times and did it. He did an awesome job.”
Despite the team’s defensive struggles, Baldwin said his players have stuck together.
“They’re continuing to do a great job of not pointing any fingers. We’re all in it together until the end,” he said. “We’ve got to … be a family and support one another and try to get better.”