COPPERAS COVE – Vondareaz King now belongs to an elite group.
The Copperas Cove running back recorded four rushing touchdowns against Waco Midway last week, producing a game rivaled by few in school history.
Vontez Duff, Jerrard Millsap and Will Wright are the only players to score more touchdowns in a game than King with each being responsible for a five-touchdown outing during their career at Copperas Cove. Just behind the trio, King’s performance positions him among other Bulldawg greats in Brandon Hamilton, Troy Vital, Johnnie Price and Bobby Hunter, who each found the end zone four times in a game.
Although the showing came in a 42-32 loss to the No. 11 Panthers, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch, who coached each of the aforementioned players, believes King’s display was unique because it highlighted both the junior’s skills and the offense’s cohesion.
“The thing about Vondareaz getting those four touchdowns, his number was called on all four,” the coach said. “He didn’t get the 80-yard runs tonight or the 70-yard runs. He was getting it in from down there (in the red zone). That truly is a team effort.”
En route to a game-high 200 rushing yards on 33 carries, all four of King’s scores came from within 10 yards as he had touchdown runs of one, nine, six and four yards.
“It feels good to have an (offensive) line that can block for you and let you find the holes and do what you need to do,” the junior said.
As a whole, however, Copperas Cove was far from perfect.
The Bulldawgs were plagued by dropped passes, missed a pair of field goals and a pair of extra points, turned the ball over three times, including once in the red zone, and had a touchdown run negated because of a holding penalty. The miscues were too numerous and too costly, and the Panthers claimed sole possession of first place in District 8-5A with the victory.
“I can single out several things, but the bottom line is that we made some mistakes, but (Midway) was also able to move the football,” Welch said. “If we would have made those same mistakes, but they couldn’t move the football, (the mistakes) never would have been singled out.
“We made more mistakes than them, though, and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
Perhaps no series of errors was more critical than a four-minute stretch late in the third quarter.
Trailing 28-19, Copperas Cove defensive back Demarkos White picked off Kramer Robertson’s pass, giving the Bulldawgs possession at their 20-yard line.
With King rushing and Robbie Seybold completing passes, the Bulldawgs advanced to Midway’s 15-yard line, where King broke free for what appeared to be a touchdown. But a holding penalty brought it back and Copperas Cove (4-2, 2-1) settled for a 46-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left.
Three plays later, the Bulldawgs’ defense was fooled on a fake field goal, allowing Midway junior Xavier Hailey to run 63 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers a 35-19 lead with 1:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldawgs had opportunities in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead twice to 10 points, but the defense could not keep Midway (6-0, 3-0) out of the end zone.
“It came down to whoever committed the fewest mistakes would win, and we knew that heading into the game,” Copperas Cove linebacker Darius McClinton said.
Copperas Cove had a series of costly errors in the second quarter as well.
After missing the extra point on their first touchdown and trailing 7-6, the Bulldawgs decided not to field the kickoff, causing them to begin at their own 9-yard line. Three snaps later, Seybold had a deep pass down the middle intercepted by Midway defensive back Justin Barnes, who returned it to the Bulldawgs’ 12-yard line.
Two runs by Panthers senior B.J. Kelley was all it took to cross the goal line, giving Midway a 14-6 advantage with 2:25 left in the first half.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org