J.D. Post knew instantly. The momentum had just changed direction.
Leading 24-16 early in the fourth quarter, Copperas Cove was forced to punt away its possession. Harker Heights was on the verge of creating a very interesting conclusion to the regular season finale and potentially ruining the Bulldawgs’ chance of reaching the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season.
But the Knights did not give themselves an opportunity.
With a light rain falling, the punt reception was bobbled and dropped, allowing Post to pounce on the ball, retaining possession for Copperas Cove. Bulldawgs quarterback Manny Harris connected with Hunter McVeigh for a 30-yard touchdown on the next play, and Copperas Cove never looked back as it outscored Harker Heights 21-7 over the duration of the game en route to a 45-23 victory.
It was a win Post could sense was coming.
“As soon as it slipped down his chest, I just picked it up, and then our team scored,” the senior said. “The momentum changed really fast. It helped us extend the lead and close the game.”
While the victory propelled the Bulldawgs into the playoffs for the 15th time in 16 seasons, it also caused the Knights’ season to come to an end.
Just like Post, Harker Heights first-year head coach Jerry Edwards knew almost instantly the significance of the bobbled reception.
“That was the turning point in the game,” he said.
In all, Copperas Cove (6-4, 4-3 District 8-5A) successfully converted four fourth-down attempts, including the punt recovery and a pair of fake punts in the first quarter.
“Our kicking game was impeccable,” Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch said. “Nothing was flubbed.”
Along with the punts and fake punts, Copperas Cove kicker Jayson Stanley made all six of his extra-point attempts and connected on a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Now the Bulldawgs, who clinched the district’s fourth and final berth with the win, turn their attention to their bi-district opponent, No. 2 DeSoto.
The Eagles enter the postseason undefeated after beating Mansfield 54-35 on Friday.
Despite being No. 9 in the current USA Today Sports Super 25 National Poll in the expert rankings and No. 1 according to the computer rankings, Welch is excited about the opportunity to play an elite program in the opening round.
“You’re going to catch them sooner or later,” he said. “Why not catch them right now?
“We’re going to catch them at the top (of their game) right now. Well, we’re at the top right now, as well. We’re starting to peak, and we’re healthy.
“If you start to go through three or four of these games, hitting all the top people in the state, you’re going to start to get banged up. We’re a small 5A school, so if we’re going to play someone like that, lets play them right now. Lets get it on.”
Roo seniors have big game on last day
Garrett Gaskamp and Daniel McCants knew that Friday’s game at Temple could be their last game at Killeen.
And they were going to do everything to ensure it wasn’t.
Despite the 63-45 loss at Wildcat Stadium, Gaskamp and McCants put up big numbers one last time in a game the Kangaroos (3-7, 3-4 District 8-5A) needed to get into the playoffs, but the loss, coupled with Copperas Cove’s win over Harker Heights, kept the Roos from their sixth straight playoff appearance.
McCants had 142 yards rushing, including a 55-yard touchdown run, and caught touchdown passes of 29 and 65 yards from Gaskamp.
McCants finished as the district’s leading rusher, going for 1,620 yards, nine more than Temple’s 6-4, 6-1) Jeff Carr, and 18 touchdowns.
Gaskamp threw for 368 yards and added two rushing scores. He ended the season with 1,990 yards passing.
— Albert Alvarado
Wolves’ Williams makes an impact in three ways
Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, one thing remains clear. Dewayne Williams is dangerous when he has the ball in his hands.
Williams had another stellar performance Friday, scoring on a punt return, hauling in another interception and catching one last regular season pass to help Shoemaker get past winless Ellison 34-9 on Friday.
The win helped the Grey Wolves clinch a playoff spot for the second time in school history.
Williams got things got things going early in the first with a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown that put Shoemaker (7-3, 5-2 8-5A) ahead 7-0 two minutes into the game.
Williams entered the game as the district’s second-leading returner with 192 yards on seven attempts.
Williams hauled in his 10th interception of the season and returned it 30 yards. The senior entered the game with nine interceptions for 282 yards and a touchdown.
He was one of the sparkplugs on a Shoemaker defense that allowed just 154 total yards and forced two turnovers.
Offensively, Williams caught a 10-yard pass.
— Albert Alvarado
Midway leaves Belton behind in second half
Belton kept pace with the high-powered Waco Midway offense for a half Friday.
But in the second half, Midway just kept scoring while Belton managed just five points.
The second-half blowout was the key to the Panthers’ 63-33 win in Belton.
Led by Ben Hicks’ 336 yards passing and four touchdowns, the Midway offense was dominant.
Midway scored on its first eight possessions and on nine of 10 possessions in the game.
The Panthers piled up 648 yards of offense in the game.
Belton amassed 451 yards of offense, led by 138 rushing yards from Kavan Johnson, but simply wasn’t able to keep pace with the Panthers’ scoring assault.
The Tigers finished the season with a 2-8 record, 2-5 in District 8-5A.
— Jordan Mason
- Copperas Cove (6-4) vs. No. 2 DeSoto (10-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waco ISD Stadium: If the Bulldawgs want to prove themselves, this is the perfect opportunity, but they must improve defensively. Both teams sport high-powered offenses, but Copperas Cove has given up 252 more points than the Eagles this season.
- Shoemaker (7-3) vs. Mansfield Timberview (7-3), 7 p.m. Saturday, Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco: The Grey Wolves will play in the postseason for the second time in school history. Shoemaker finished third in District 8-5A, but is the higher seed in the Division I playoffs. Timberview finished third in District 7-5A and is the lower seed in the Division I playoffs.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1,620 — Rushing yards this season for Killeen RB Daniel McCants.
- 10 — Interceptions this season for Shoemaker’s Dewayne Williams.
- 2 — Two playoff appearances in Shoemaker’s history.
- 11 — Conversions on third or fourth down by Cove on Friday.
- 2:20 — Longest scoring drive by Midway in its 63-33 win over Belton on Friday.