The Killeen Kangaroos scored 28 points for the second straight week.
But they were enough against Harker Heights
The Roos gouged Harker Heights’ defense for 400 yards on the ground and rebounded from last week’s 64-28 loss by beating the Knights 28-7 on Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium.
After getting punched in the mouth by the Bulldawgs last week, Killeen (4-1, 1-1 8-5A) focused on its physicality during the week leading up to its game against Heights.
“We knew all week that we had to get physical on defense, so we practiced running the football a little bit more, went against the 1’s a little bit more to get ready for how physical (the Knights) were,” said Killeen coach Sam Jones. “It looks like we kind of turned the tide on them. Instead of us trying to worry about passing, we were running the ball and were having success with it, so we kind of stayed with it.”
Killeen junior running back Daniel McCants officially ran for 216 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and senior Naaman Young carried 16 times for 94 yards against a Knights defense that limited Belton to zero points and less than 200 yards of offense the week before.
The Knights (1-4, 1-1) struggled offensively in the loss despite scoring as many points against Killeen as they did in the win over Belton last week. Heights turned the ball over four times in the game, including a muffed punt early that forced the Knights to play catch-up, and crossed over the 50-yard line just once in the second half — quarterback Troy Smith’s 17-yard run from the Heights 36 to the Killeen 47 on the last play of the game.
“They exposed some of our weaknesses, which was probably a good thing to let us know what we needed to work on,” said Heights coach Mike Mullins. “We’ve got to have amnesia. We had a bad game, let’s get this one out of the way and move on.”
Bulldawgs make a stand
Copperas Cove put together its best defensive performance of the season on Thursday, limiting Shoemaker to just 156 yards in a 45-6 victory.
Highlighted by a pair of interceptions from Demarkos White and Kincey English, the Bulldogs allowed the Grey Wolves into the red zone just once and thwarted 13 of 15 third-down conversion attempts, including all eight of Shoemaker’s second-half tries.
Additionally, the Bulldawgs forced four turnovers on downs and held the Grey Wolves to zero or negative yards on 29 of their 60 offensive plays.
The unit’s greatest accomplishment, however, was holding District 8-5A rushing leader Johnny Jefferson well below his 199 yards-per-game average entering the evening. Jefferson finished with 78 yards on 25 carries and only had four runs of 5 yards or more.
Durham Smythe is Belton’s best player.
But he has not been the Tigers’ most utilized option this season. The University of Texas commit had only five receptions for 63 yards through the first four games of the season and was primarily being used to help an inexperienced offensive line hold its own.
In the Tigers’ 35-16 win over Ellison on Friday, Smythe’s ankle problems seemed a thing of the past. The tight end caught five passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and head coach Rodney Southern expects the senior to contribute heavily to the Belton passing game for the rest of the season.
That means Belton has yet another weapon for quarterback Peter Shelburne to throw to — especially in the red zone. Shelburne has been connecting mostly on long passes to Derick Bates this season. With Smythe healthy, the Tigers can attack the middle of the field again.
By the Numbers
- 0 — Points scored by Temple in the second half of its two losses this season. Waco Midway outscored Temple 42-0 in the second half of the Panthers’ 63-20 win over Temple on Friday.
- 11 — Penalties against Shoemaker during its 45-6 loss to Copperas Cove. In all, the infractions added up to 73 yards.
- 8 — Yards per carry for Ellison running back Isiah Cowan in the Eagles’ 19-point loss to Belton. Cowan carried 27 times for 216 yards.
- 2 — First downs by Harker Heights in the second half of its 28-7 loss to Killeen on Friday.
- 136 — Rushing yards by Shoemaker senior running back Johnny Jefferson in two District 8-5A games this season. The Baylor commit averaged nearly 250 a game in three preseason games.
- Waco Midway (5-0, 2-0 District 8-5A) at Copperas Cove (4-1, 2-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday — In a battle of the only remaining unbeaten teams, this will be the a turning point in the District 8-5A race, with the winner taking control of its fate by having the upper hand in the standings.
- Shoemaker (1-4, 0-2) at Killeen (4-1, 1-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday — Both Copperas Cove and Temple have found ways to contain Shoemaker running back Johnny Jefferson. Can the Kangaroos? Jefferson has run for 136 yards and just three touchdowns on 40 carries in his last two games, but is about due for another monster performance. Killeen, meanwhile, has its own running back threat, Daniel McCants (420 yards, 4 TDs), that the Grey Wolves must contend with.
- Belton (4-1, 1-1 8-5A) at Temple (3-2, 1-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday — In one of Central Texas’ classic rivalries, the Tigers are in must-win mode following their loss to Harker Heights in the 8-5A opener two weeks ago. Belton easily beat Ellison 35-16 to rebound, but has to travel to Temple for a pivotal district game against the Wildcats, who were outscored 42-0 in the second half of their 63-20 loss to Waco Midway.
- Harker Heights (1-4, 1-1 8-5A) at Ellison (0-5, 0-2), 6:30 p.m. Thursday — This was supposed to be the opening game at the new Fort Hood Stadium, but because of construction delays, it was moved to Thursday and relocated to Leo Buckley Stadium. Harker Heights, coming off its 7-0 district-opening shutout of Belton, was brought back to earth with a 28-7 loss to rival Killeen last week while Ellison lost its 15th consecutive game to those same Tigers on Friday. Don’t expect an offensive explosion as both teams have among the district’s worst offenses, with the Knights averaging just 227.4 yards per game to the Eagles’ 291.4.
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562
Clay Whittington, Nick Talbot and Alex Byington contributed to this report.