High school football coaches aren't used to giving halftime interviews —- on live TV, no less.
But when a state title is on the line, the ball game is much different.
With his team leading 14-10 at the break Friday, Carthage's Scott Surratt did a halftime interview with Fox Sports Southwest. A debatable topic in the 3A Division I title game at AT&T Stadium was addressed right away: Neil Beasley asked about an official's call that hurt Carthage just before the break.
Instead of criticizing the officials, Surratt handled the situation smoothly.
On the play, Carthage went for it on fourth-and-5 from just inside its own territory and quarterback Blake Bogenschutz appeared to complete a first-down pass with less than a minute remaining. But instead of Carthage moving the chains with a 14-7 lead, the completion was overturned and called incomplete despite TV replays showing the receiver clearly with possession.
It ended up costing Carthage three points, because Kilgore quickly moved the ball into field-goal range and got a 39-yard kick from Christian Galvan to send the game into halftime.
In the moments after the fourth down, Surratt stated his case with officials and continued to do so when the teams returned to the field for the third quarter. Even though high school officials don't have the benefit of replays and challenges to correct calls, Fox's replays supported Surratt's case.
While dealing with his players headed for the locker room to regroup, Surratt regained his composure and told Beasley that games are filled with breaks —- both good and bad —- and the call was simply one of them. The key: be on the other side of most of them, he said.
It took little time before one break went Carthage's way: Kilgore missed a field goal on the opening drive of the season half —- its second miss of the game. Then on the ensuing possession, Carthage got a 51-yard touchdown pass from Bogenschutz to 6-5 receiver O'Keeron Rutherford to increase its lead to 21-10.
Just like that, the overturned fourth down was drifting into the past. And just like that, Carthage was bound for its fourth title in six years.
Jerry's World: Jerry Jones, the Cowboys' owner and general manager, was among the 17, 641 in attendance and presented the postgame awards to the Defensive Player of the Game, Mario McCain, and the Offensive Player of the Game, Bogenschutz. He also gave his own sideline interview with Beasley in the third quarter. He said that hosting the UIL state championship games is what makes him proudest of AT&T Stadium. He also said that NFL colleagues from around the country often praise the event the championship games have become since moving to Arlington. He said that the awe-inspiring experience of visiting the Houston Astrodome for the first time while in college was on his mind when developing AT&T Stadium. He ended the interview with a question about the Cowboys and said: "I wish we had some of these guys on the team."
Another All-East Texas Showdown: For the second time in four years, East Texas football was showcased on both sidelines in the 3A Division I title game. Back in 2010, Henderson beat Chapel Hill in the first-ever championship game played at AT&T Stadium (then named Cowboys Stadium). Chapel Hill returned to win the title the next season to give the region three consecutive 3A Division I titles (Gilmer won it in ‘09). East Texas was shut out in 3A Division I last season, but Gilmer reached the 3A Division II final.
Both 3A Games Match Identical Mascots: Kilgore and Carthage share the same mascot (Bulldogs) and school colors (red and white). Both teams have red helmets that proudly display the first letter of their school's name —- K for Kilgore and C for Carthage. The 3A Division II title game also featured identical mascots as the Fairfield Eagles tangled with the Argyle Eagles. With AT&T Stadium being home to the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones had to host double the number of Eagles on Friday.