All it took was one mistake.
After going back and forth with Copperas Cove for most of the first half, a high snap sent Shoemaker into a tailspin it could not pull out of.
With 2:39 remaining before halftime, the Grey Wolves were forced to punt on fourth-and-18 from their own 35-yard line. The ball soared above the head of Rayshun Spearman and the 6-foot-1 running back/punter, who was barely able to leap up and deflect it, could not recover in time to get the kick off before Bulldawgs defensive lineman Tyrell Thompson delivered a game-changing hit.
“When I saw that ball go over his head, I just threw the guard out of the way and ran full speed, broke down, made a good, solid tackle and changed the momentum of the game,” Thompson said.
One play later, Copperas Cove quarterback Manny Harris found Hunter McVeigh for a 21-yard touchdown, giving the Bulldawgs their first of two unanswered scores before the end of the second quarter. Shoemaker went into halftime trailing 35-21 and never recovered, losing 63-41 at Bulldawg Stadium.
Following the loss, Grey Wolves head coach Channon Hall admitted the botched punt changed everything.
“That was very critical,” he said. “(Copperas Cove is) a good football team, and if you give them that and let them get two scores away from you, it is hard to climb back. … You’re not going to be successful giving up easy scores and leaving scores on the field against a good football team.”
The Bulldawgs (3-2, 1-1 District 8-5A) outscored Shoemaker 28-14 in the second half until a 59-yard touchdown pass from Ziere Banner to Nahome Anderson provided the game’s final points with 28 seconds remaining.
Both teams repeatedly exchanged scores to start the game with Shoemaker (2-3, 0-2) answering every Bulldawgs touchdown until Copperas Cove finally established some breathing room.
Making matters worse for the Grey Wolves, Harris, who finished the game with seven passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, engineered a seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter, extending Copperas Cove’s lead to 21 points on an 18-yard pass to Derrick Giles.
No play, however, was more important to the Bulldawgs’ victory than Thompson’s tackle that triggered his team’s offensive outburst.
“Those two touchdowns before halftime were very, very key,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “Then, just to get a stop (on the following Shoemaker possession) and we got another score, that kind of put the nail in the coffin.”
Heights musters stellar second-half effort
In its season opener, Harker Heights led Round Rock Stony Point 21-14 going into halftime, before losing 47-31. In Week 1, the Knights led Round Rock 28-10 after 24 minutes, only to fall 40-37. And in Week 4, Heights dominated Belton with a 31-14 first-half lead, before allowing the Tigers to put up 28 second-half points and win 42-38.
The Knights (1-4, 1-1 District 8-5A) defied hindsight logic Friday night, extending a 17-7 halftime advantage into a 34-28 win over Killeen (1-4, 1-1 District 8-5A).
“I know we lost a couple leads earlier in the year, and that’s really the kids adjusting to me and my new system,” coach Jerry Edwards said. “We didn’t have the luxury of having a spring football, so we’ve been learning on the fly each and every week, and trying to get ready for our opponent.”
While Killeen quarterback Garrett Gaskamp compiled 251 passing yards in the second half, Heights recovered two fumbles, limited the ground-based Roos to 43 rushing yards, and snagged a game-sealing interception in the same period.
After the half at Belton, Knights running back Marcus Anderson II gained 36 of his 211 rushing yards. But Anderson racked up 96 of 125 total rushing yards and five key first downs during Friday’s final 24 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarterback Troy Smith carried seven times, threw twice, and accounted for both Heights touchdowns with runs of 1 and 35 yards.
But Anderson controlled the ball and rolled the clock, carrying 13 times for five first downs, and lost yardage only once.
“That’s the type of back that he is,” said Edwards.
“He needs to be the type of back that puts the team on his shoulders and carry us to victory.”
Heights dominated time of possession in the fourth quarter, holding the ball for 7:09.
During his team’s last drive — which lasted 6:23 — Anderson carried eight times for 35 yards and three first downs, to set up an Austin Roden 25-yard field goal.
The Knights led 34-21.
Gaskamp then engineered a 75-yard, 1:15 scoring drive, and the Kangaroos recovered their subsequent onside kick.
But Heights’ prevent defense held steady.
With 22 seconds remaining, Killeen launched a pass intercepted by junior Heights defensive back Chris Henderson.
“(The players) bought in to what I’m doing and they never lost their determination, or their fortitude to get the job done, and they just kept plugging away,” Edwards said. “I kept telling them, ‘If you keep plugging away, we keep weathering the storm, good things are going to happen,’ and it turned out for us tonight.”
— Brian Bradley
Ellison close again but loses 25th straight game
After falling behind Belton 14-0, Ellison clawed all the way back to take a lead on its first drive of the second half.
But that lead only lasted 2 minutes, 55 seconds before the Tigers (2-3, 2-0 8-5A) took the lead for good on a 40-yard touchdown run by Kavan Johnson with 8:16 to play in the third.
Yet Ellison (0-5, 0-2) had many chances to regain the lead in the second half.
Instead, the Eagles had one drive stall, resulting in a Deon Burch field goal, and saw Belton convert a fourth down on a jump pass from Shane Stafford to Johnson that went 30 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth.
After playing Waco Midway close in its district opener, it was the second time Ellison walked away feeling it missed an opportunity to pick up its first win.
“At times, we would work the ball down where it looks like we can get some points, and then we’d just shoot ourselves in the foot,” Eagle coach Trent Gregory said.
“It’s just mental mistakes. We can’t do that.”
Ellison did manage to get its running game going, rushing for 229 as a team, 145 of which came from Burch.
But Belton was able to hold off the Eagles thanks largely to converting four fourth downs in the second half to improve to 2-0 in district — tied with Midway for first — after going winless in nondistrict play.
“It’s definitely kind of gratifying knowing that even though we started off so rough we can come back and win two games like that and be one of the top two teams in the district right now,” Stafford said.
— Jordan Mason
Temple’s best shot not enough
The Wildcats did everything in their power to pull out a victory against the defending District 8-5A champions, and it still was not close.
The Panthers were rarely threatened, scoring at least 13 points in every quarter en route to a one-sided 63-43 victory at Wildcat Stadium.
Temple totaled 469 yards of offense behind big nights from Chase Truelove and Jeff Carr, but could not keep pace with Midway’s aerial assault orchestrated by quarterback Ben Hicks. Accounting for 477 passing yards and five touchdowns, Hicks was dominant from the opening drive, delivering a 65-yard touchdown to Devontre Stricklin on the Panthers’ first offensive play.
Truelove continues to shine in place of Chad President, who is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The senior quarterback completed 18 of 33 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
On the ground, the Wildcats posted 215 rushing yards behind Carr’s fourth 100-yard game of the season. The junior carried the ball 26 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns, while Truelove added 86 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
- Copperas Cove (3-2, 1-1 8-5A) at Midway (4-1, 2-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: This is the matchup many thought would decide the District 8-5A championship before the season began. The Panthers beat the Bulldawgs 42-32 last season.
- Harker Heights (1-4, 1-1 in District 8-5A) at Ellison (0-5, 0-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Buckley Stadium): Heights is riding high after knocking off Killeen for its first win of the season while Ellison will be looking to put an end to its 25-game losing streak after two close ones.
- Killeen (1-4, 1-1 District 8-5A) at Shoemaker (2-3, 0-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Hood Stadium): Shoemaker has lost two straight against district opponents Temple and Copperas Cove. Killeen returns to Hood Stadium two weeks after upsetting Copperas Cove 47-38 at the same venue.
- Temple (2-3, 1-1 8-5A) at Belton (2-3, 2-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Wildcats have won two in a row against their next-door neighbor, including a 50-44 victory last season.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 9:35 — Possession time for Belton in the fourth quarter Friday against Ellison.
- 7.4 — Yards per carry for Heights RB Marcus Anderson II on Friday against Killeen.
- 163 — Passing yards needed by Cove’s Manny Harris to set the school’s single-season record.
- 4 — Temple players with more than 100 yards Friday, led by Chase Truelove’s 254 passing yards.
- 14 — Points Friday for Ellison RB/K Deon Burch (TD, 2 FGs, 2 PATs)