HEWITT — Shoemaker coach Channon Hall said his offensive players would fill the gap left by former playmaking running back Johnny Jefferson “by committee.”
But on Friday night, it was a stout and stingy defense that collectively stepped up for the Grey Wolves (5-3, 3-2 District 8-5A) in their 7-3 win at Waco Midway.
Shoemaker bent a couple times, but never broke in its third straight win.
Midway (6-2, 4-1) appeared poised to start rolling the Grey Wolves on its second possession.
Up 3-0 after a Shoemaker three-and-out, the Panthers took possession at the Wolves’ 43 with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Ben Hicks completed four of five passes — including a 21-yarder to Cayson Buchle — to put his team on the Grey Wolves’ 6.
Split right, running back Eric Clayburn initially caught Hicks’ ensuing swing pass, but he quickly fumbled, and senior defensive back Darnell Everett snatched the loose pigskin before running 88 yards to the house.
Midway netted minus-1 yard on its next possession, and gained only 7 total on its ensuing series to open the second quarter.
The Panthers showed their trademark big-play potential on the next drive, however, racking up three first downs and 51 yards before Leo Peralta kicked wide left on a 52-yard field goal try with 6 minutes left in the first half.
Shoemaker extended its fragile momentum past halftime, after holding Midway to a combined 3 yards on its last two first-half drives.
The Panthers opened the second half with three consecutive three-and-outs.
Two Wolves swarmed Hicks for a 10-yard loss at his own 10 with about 7 minutes remaining in the third.
Hicks left the game with an unknown leg injury after Shoemaker’s Broderick Reed sacked him for a 12-yard loss on Midway’s next offensive play, before backup quarterback Nathan Butler threw incomplete on third-and-13.
Panther Kahlil Haughton lined up under center during the next drive, and had runs of 2 and 4 yards before linebacker Malik Clemons dropped him for a 9-yard loss on third-and-4 with more than a minute left in the third.
The Grey Wolves fell on a fumbled handoff on Midway’s next offensive play, but couldn’t hit a wide-open Nahome Anderson in the left corner of the end zone on their own third down. Shoemaker missed the ensuing 35-yard field goal try.
Midway wielded its newfound momentum on a 25-yard pass to Buchle two plays later, but the drive stalled on fourth-and-inches at Shoemaker’s 46. The defensive line stayed low and stuffed an up-the-gut quarterback sneak.
The Panthers’ next possession was another three-and-out after two straight well-defended passes missed their targets.
Taking over at their own 23 with 3:06 remaining, Midway marched, and converted a fourth-and-7 to land on Shoemaker’s 49 before an incompletion, a 10-yard sack by linebacker Teneak Hall, and two more incompletions.
“We had a good plan for them,” Hall said. “We feel like, defensively, we knew they had some playmakers. We put some more playmakers on the field and said, ‘You got to make plays.’ And it came down to who was going to make plays.”
Dawgs in better shape, but still need to keep winning
Copperas Cove cannot afford to rest.
After surviving a scary start to the District 8-5A schedule, losing two of their first three games, the Bulldawgs have regained control of their postseason destiny. Following Friday’s 48-28 victory against Ellison at Hood Stadium, Copperas Cove can guarantee a 10th consecutive playoff appearance by winning its final two games.
Considering everything his team has overcome and the hurdles lying ahead, Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch knows every second counts.
“Bottom line is we are in a grind, and we’ve just got to keep going, keep going, keep going,” he said. “I talk in my sleep. I think my wife has to sleep on the couch most of the time because, right now, that’s where your mind is. We’re occupied with what we are doing, and there is no rest.”
Backed into a corner, the Bulldawgs desperately needed to beat the Eagles to keep from falling into a daunting 1-3 hole in district with only two games remaining. As fate would have it, however, Copperas Cove went from possibly being virtually eliminated from the playoff chase to having an opportunity to be in sole possession of second place with a victory over Temple on Friday.
The Bulldawgs (5-3, 3-2) received big contributions offensively from junior quarterback Manny Harris (24-33-1-254, 3 TDs; 13-80, 2 TDs) and receiver Phillip Baptiste (11-113, 2 TDs), while the defense recovered a pair of fumbles, intercepted a pass and forced the Eagles to punt four times.
Ellison finished the game with 373 total yards, including 311 passing, but was successful on only six of 14 third-down conversion attempts.
“We’ve got to finish,” Ellison first-year head coach Trent Gregory said. “We’ve got to finish drives off, but the O-line kids did an amazing job tonight. They’ve really grown up and come a long way.”
Eagles quarterback Jacob Ledford completed 27 of 43 passes for 276 yards, finding receivers Hayward Clay (126 yards) and Reggie Jackson (101 yards) nine times apiece.
Clay accounted for two of Ellison’s touchdowns, throwing scoring passes to Ledford and Deon Burch, but it was not enough to recover after falling behind 21-0 to start the game.
While the outcome gave the Eagles (0-8, 0-5) their 28th consecutive loss, it presented the Bulldawgs with a golden opportunity to help solidify a spot near the top of the district standings by beating Temple (5-3, 4-1).
“We’ve just got to win,” Copperas Cove defensive back J.D. Post said. “We’re going to practice as hard as we can and do what we have to do, so we can make the decisions we’ve got to make (during the game).”
— Clay Whittington
McCants thunders to more than 300 total yards; Gaskamp closes for Roos
This season, Killeen’s best chances to win have come when senior running back Daniel McCants is on his “A” game.
But this week, it was quarterback Garrett Gaskamp who sealed the deal for the Roos (2-6, 2-3 District 8-5A) in their 31-28 win at Belton (2-6, 2-3).
While McCants racked up 302 total yards and was responsible for Killeen’s first three touchdowns, Gaskamp connected with Djiron Lilley on passes of 13 and 22 yards to storm back from a 28-19 deficit in the final 4:37.
The 22-yarder came with 8 seconds left in the game.
The Roos also toyed with the wildcat offense, as receiver Keondre Parker lined up as a quarterback and completed two of four passes for 15 yards.
And one week after Killeen’s playoff hopes seemed crushed after a 58-20 loss at Hood Stadium to Midway, the Roos are staring down Shoemaker for the fourth postseason spot.
— Brian Bradley
Blocking tight end Minter keys Temple running game in win against Heights
On paper, Temple junior Jeff Carr did most of the heavy lifting when it came to the Wildcats’ 381 yards on the ground against Harker Heights.
If not Carr, who had 204 yards and two touchdowns, then it was quarterback Chase Truelove, who had 102 yards and three touchdowns.
But after the game, Wildcats coach Mike Spradlin admitted that the secret weapon for the Temple running game was a player who didn’t even have a carry.
Junior tight end Chris Minter debuted in the Temple backfield as a blocker and the results were staggering, as he was the key blocker on each of Truelove’s three touchdowns and many more running plays in the Wildcats’ 42-21 win.
“Chris, we kind of put him back there in a spread set with Chase, and we did ride him a little bit tonight,” Spradlin said after the game Friday. “And Chris has just been that guy for us. He’s a great kid, and really blocked hard tonight for us.”
Of course, Spradlin didn’t forget about the big guys up front.
“And our offensive line did, too, they really did a good job up front,” Spradlin said.
It was the second consecutive week Heights allowed a quarterback and running back to top 100 yards on the ground as the Knights have allowed 777 rushing yards in the past two games, losses to Shoemaker and Temple.
Senior running back Marcus Anderson II was a bright spot for the Knights, however, gutting out 91 yards on 17 carries on an injured ankle.
Anderson didn’t play the fourth quarter against Temple, and it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be able to play Friday at Midway.
— Jordan Mason
- Belton (2-6, 2-3 8-5A) at Shoemaker (5-3, 3-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Hood Stadium): Shoemaker lost 49-14 at Belton a year ago, and hasn’t beaten the Tigers since a 34-17 win at Leo Buckley Stadium in 2006.
- Ellison (0-8, 0-5 8-5A) at Killeen (2-6, 2-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Buckley Stadium): After a much-needed win against Belton, Killeen will try to keep pace in the 8-5A playoff race against Ellison, still searching for its first win. Killeen smashed Ellison 54-22 last year, and hasn’t lost to the Eagles since a 20-14 loss in 2009.
- Harker Heights (2-6, 2-3 8-5A) at Midway (6-2, 4-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: After losing two straight, Heights will try to do what Shoemaker did just a week before: Hand the first-place Panthers a loss at home.
- Temple (5-3, 4-1 8-5A) at Copperas Cove (5-3, 3-2): A matchup between two of the district’s top offenses playing in a game with huge playoff implications for both teams.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1,426 — Rushing yards for Killeen’s Daniel McCants through eight games.
- 7 — Offensive plays needed by Temple to score 21 straight points Friday.
- 49.3 — Midway’s scoring average in district games before Friday’s 7-3 loss.
- 243 — Rushing yards for Copperas Cove on Friday, 81 more than its season average
- 2.7 — Yards per carry for Ellison against Cove. The Eagles gained 62 yards on 23 carries