It appeared as if Copperas Cove’s destiny was already written, and the Bulldawgs’ fate was determined.
For three quarters, Cedar Hill stymied the Bulldawgs defensively and did whatever it pleased on offense. The Longhorns seemingly wrote the final chapter of Copperas Cove’s 2012 season, punctuating it with a blowout.
But, in the fourth quarter, Copperas Cove flipped the script. The Bulldawgs wrestled the pen from the hand of their bi-district opponent and rewrote history. They could not alter the outcome, but the Bulldawgs were able to produce a fairy tale ending of sorts.
In the game’s final 12 minutes, Copperas Cove scored 21 unanswered points, made numerous clutch plays and performed like the best team on the field. The rally was not enough as the Bulldawgs were eliminated from the playoffs with a 35-28 loss, but, nevertheless, the team saved its season.
Copperas Cove had ample opportunity and reasons to send its reserves into the game. The Bulldawgs could have conceded, allowed their backups to experience the playoffs, swallowed their pride and accepted defeat.
And few in the stands would have argued. After all, Copperas Cove was anemic on offense, posting just 28 rushing yards in the first half as junior running back Vondareaz King was contained on five of seven rushes for two yards or fewer.
The third quarter was not much better. The Bulldawgs went three-and-out on its first two possessions and trailed by 28 points following a nine-play, 57-yard scoring drive by the Longhorns.
Copperas Cove was out of its element. Cedar Hill forced Robbie Seybold to become a passer instead of a facilitator by virtually eliminating the Bulldawgs’ ground game, minus a handful of successful quarterback keeper plays, with its speed.
Despite catching a break defensively when Texas A&M commit running back Laquvionte Gonzalez, who ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, was injured early in the second half and forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the game, Copperas Cove could not slow down the Longhorns or halt their time-consuming drives.
Then something happened. The Bulldawgs decided they did not want to be remembered as a scrappy team that overcame adversity only to be overwhelmed in the playoffs, and Copperas Cove finally fought back.
King posted his only double-digit run of the afternoon, using a 10-yard dash to cap off a scoring drive that began in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Zach Martin recovered an onside kick and, almost five minutes later, King scored again to slice the deficit to 14 points, 35-21, with 6:38 remaining.
Unable to recover another onside attempt, Copperas Cove’s defense made a stand, and the Longhorns turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Bulldawgs’ offense to march 62 yards in eight plays, and Seybold found receiver Rashaun Gibson for a seven-yard touchdown.
Suddenly, Copperas Cove was on the verge of a potential come-from-behind upset, trailing 35-28 with 1:36 left. But the comeback fell short. The Bulldawgs’ season concluded and their legacy began.
The 2012 Copperas Cove football team will be remembered for its resiliency. When the season began, question marks surrounded the squad. An opening-week loss provided few answers, and a two-game losing streak in the middle of district play almost prevented the Bulldawgs from reaching the playoffs.
Then, in the first game of its ninth consecutive trip to the postseason, Copperas Cove was written off by most before halftime. The Bulldawgs, however, never gave up on themselves and went from being blown out to going out with their heads held high.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com