Copperas Cove has been in this position before.
The Bulldawgs advanced to the Class 4A state final in 2006 and 2007, and en route to each championship game they suffered tough district defeats similar to Friday’s 42-32 loss at home to Waco Midway.
And just like during those two runs, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch believes the loss to the Panthers will serve to make his team stronger.
“You don’t want to lose a ball game ever,” Welch said, “but we played for two state titles and both of those years we lost a ball game just like this against Waco. And both of those games really made us better.
“In this game (against Midway), we played, we competed, and we overcame adversity from the start to the finish. We played all the way through it. We had some field goals go wide, but we stayed with our kids, and they came back and worked through it, and that is what you’ve got to do (to be successful).”
Despite their efforts, the Bulldawgs could not overcome a 28-13 run by Midway spanning the second and third quarters.
After taking a 6-0 lead on Vondareaz King’s first of four touchdown runs, the Panthers produced a pair of scores sandwiched around a Copperas Cove interception inside their own 10-yard line to build an eight-point advantage, 14-6.
The lead swelled to 35-19 by the end of the third quarter, and the Bulldawgs (4-2, 2-1 District 8-5A) could not overcome the double-digit deficit.
For the remainder of the contest, the Panthers (6-0, 3-0) answered every attempt by Copperas Cove to come back.
Thanks in part to a 200-yard rushing performance from King, the Bulldawgs got within 10 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but simply could not get the necessary defensive stops or offensive output to earn the victory and the accompanying first-place position in the district race.
Nevertheless, Welch feels the loss will be beneficial in the long run.
“Those kinds of games help you,” the coach said. “We were able to catch Midway early in district play, and I think that is going to help us. They are a very good football team, they play hard and nobody expected us to beat them, and rightly so. They are a very loaded football team, but our kids think they can win, and they played like that.
“We are not where we need to be yet. We’ve got a lot of growing to do, but we are getting there.”
And, according to Welch, Midway only served to accelerate the maturation process.
Hello, Mr. President
Temple found itself in an early hole against its biggest rival, Belton, on Friday.
Down 7-0 and the offense looking stalled, Wildcat quarterback Zach Allen went deep to someone he knew he could depend on — wide receiver Chad President.
President caught the bomb and took it 69 yards and into the end zone to tie the game at 7. But, that was not even his biggest or longest catch of the night.
Down 24-14 with less than two minutes to go in the half, the Temple offense took over deep on its own side of the field. It didn’t matter.
Allen just went deep again, this time finding President for a 73-yard touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining in the half to pull the Wildcats within three points and setting the stage for their comeback and the 50-44 win.
Gaskamp, Killeen passing game re-emerges
Garrett Gaskamp threw consecutive touchdown passes of 39 and 47 yards to DeVarri McCray on identical routes on back-to-back offensive plays.
Despite poor passing production in Killeen’s three previous games, the Kangaroos quarterback-receiver duo didn’t doubt they’d be successful Friday night in their 38-6 drubbing of Shoemaker at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“I think we’ve been playing fine — we’ve been winning and just doing whatever it takes to win, just impacting the game however I can,” said Gaskamp. “But this game feels good just getting back in our rhythm and getting that combination back that we had with our receivers.”
Gaskamp was 16-of-22 for 199 yards and two touchdowns in his best performance since a 241-yard, two-touchdown performance against New Braunfels Canyon in the season-opener. Since, the junior second-year starter had completed just 20 of 48 attempts for 264 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions.
“It’s just like the first game — he threw the ball well the first game also. He just didn’t have to in some of the other games and then one of the games, I think we dropped the ball a little bit,” said Killeen coach Sam Jones.
Anderson II debut a big hit
Coming into the season, Marcus Anderson II was expected to be the guy to lead the Harker Heights offense, but a broken left leg in the final week of the preseason put a major delay in that.
Finally, after missing the first six weeks of the season, Anderson II returned and showed the kind of production the Knights (2-4, 2-1 8-5A) coaches have been eager to see, rushing for 116 yards on 19 carries in Thursday’s double-overtime, 25-22 win over Ellison.
But what was most impressive was Anderson’s ability to consistently gain positive yardage, rushing for more than 5 yards on 12 of his first 14 attempts before slowing down in overtime.
The result was obvious, especially on the scoreboard, as Heights found the end zone more than once in a game for the first time all season, with the Knights’ first two touchdowns coming on runs of 6 and 18 yards by Anderson.
By the Numbers
- 4 — Turnovers by Shoemaker’s offense in the Grey Wolves’ loss to Killeen. Shoemaker fumbled five times, lost three, and threw one interception in its fourth straight loss.
- 44 — Combined first downs in Temple’s 50-44 win over Belton.
- 3.1 — Average yards per carry by Ellison tailback Isiah Cowan on a career-high 40 carries in Thursday’s 25-22 double-overtime loss to Harker Heights. Cowan had averaged 5.6 and 8 yards-per-carry in the prior two weeks.
- Harker Heights (2-4, 2-1 8-5A) at Shoemaker (1-5, 0-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hood Stadium — The Knights barely pulled out a double-overtime thriller against Ellison and are trying to stay in the 8-5A playoff hunt with their first two-game win streak of the season against a Grey Wolves squad that leads the district with 10 lost fumbles and has turned the ball over seven times the last two weeks.
- Killeen (5-1, 2-1 8-5A) at No. 11 Waco Midway (6-0, 3-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday — The two former 4A rivals meet for the third straight year, with both enjoying early-season success in 5A. The Panthers, 8-5A’s only unbeaten team after their 42-32 win over Copperas Cove, have won the last four against Killeen, including 33-19 last year.
- Temple (4-2, 2-1 8-5A) at Ellison (0-6, 0-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Leo Buckley Stadium — The Eagles nearly notched their first win of the season against Harker Heights, losing to the Knights 25-22 in double overtime, but will have a much harder time containing Temple’s district-best offense, which scored 21 unanswered points in a seven-minute stretch of the third quarter to beat rival Belton 50-44.
- Copperas Cove (4-2, 2-1 8-5A) at Belton (4-2, 1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday — The Bulldawgs have not lost consecutive regular season games since 2002 and are 6-0 against the Tigers dating back to 2003, winning all but one of the contests by at least 20 points. Belton could prove difficult to contain, however, after posting 499 yards, including a 278-yard passing performance from quarterback Peter Shelburne, in a 50-44 loss to Temple last week.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com
Alex Byington, Kevin Posival and Nick Talbot contributed to this report.