Sam Jones’ team was winless, but he did not care.
After losing its first three games of the season, Killeen entered Friday night’s contest against perceived District 8-5A power Copperas Cove as a significant underdog. The Kangaroos head coach did not see it that way, though, and neither did his players, who helped orchestrate a dramatic upset of the Bulldawgs.
Copperas Cove had beaten Killeen 11 straight times before the Kangaroos used a 20-point, fourth-quarter outburst to snap the streak, winning 47-38 at Hood Stadium.
“I told them (before the game) they were the best 0-3 team in the state of Texas,” Jones said. “We’ve been real close to winning all three games, but we just found ways to lose it. … Right now, we are sitting right where we want to be — 1-0 in district.”
Running back Daniel McCants was a major reason behind the Kangaroos (1-3, 1-0) earning the first victory for any Killeen Independent School District team against Copperas Cove since 1998. The senior carried the ball 42 times for 276 yards and six touchdowns.
Much like it did with his coach, the victory merely reassured McCants his team is much better than its record indicates.
“I know we are good, and I know we can play good,” he said. “Through everything, we stick together, and we got the win.”
McCants delivered a 56-yard touchdown to go with five scoring runs from within 10 yards of the goal line. Despite McCants reaching the end zone four times, Killeen trailed 30-27 entering the fourth quarter, but his two unanswered touchdowns to start the fourth quarter gave the Kangaroos a 41-30 lead.
“The scoreboard (was my motivation),” McCants said. “I saw we were down, and I wanted to keep pushing and keep pushing. I ran up to my O-line after every play saying, ‘Let’s go.’”
While the win injects life into the Kangaroos, the Bulldawgs (2-2, 0-1) have fallen into an early hole as they look to challenge defending district champion Midway for this season’s title.
“The other team just outplayed us,” Copperas Cove quarterback Manny Harris said. “They had a really good night, and I can’t take anything away from them.
“We can’t look at any team lightly. They played really good, and we shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times.”
Harris produced his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing performance, completing 21 of 42 attempts for 309 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw a pair of interceptions, including one picked off by Killeen’s Matt Ballard for a 55-yard touchdown and the game’s final points.
Bulldawgs receivers Phillip Baptiste (92 yards) and Derrick Giles (91 yards) finished with eight catches apiece, while Tre Powell had a game-high 101 yards receiving, including a 70-yard touchdown reception.
In the end, however, McCants was simply too much for Copperas Cove to handle.
“I have a lot of respect for McCants,” Bulldawgs linebacker Elijah Timarky said. “He’s a very good running back, and there were doubts that he could run the ball well, and he did tonight.”
Carr drives Temple to victory
With dual-threat quarterback Chad President sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, Temple needed a new offensive motor.
The Wildcats found what they were looking for in running back Jeff Carr.
The junior finished with a team-high 124 rushing yards on 24 carries and scored on a 20-yard run in the third quarter as Temple’s defense held Shoemaker scoreless following halftime.
Despite the second-half offensive collapse, Grey Wolves quarterback Ziere Banner continued his streak of impressive performances, accounting for 360 total yards and four touchdowns.
Temple senior quarterback Chase Truelove received the start in place of President and rushed 20 times for 75 yards, while completing 13 of 30 passes for 200 yards, but he also threw three interceptions.
Ellison finds positives in loss to Waco Midway
For 37 seconds Friday, Ellison seemed poised to go into halftime down just two points to perennial power Waco Midway.
Ellison hadn’t won a game since 2010 while Midway hadn’t lost a district game since 2011, yet there the Eagles were with legitimate reason to believe it had a shot at upsetting the heavily favored Panthers.
But Midway showed why it is the defending district champion by responding to the Eagles’ lone first-half touchdown with a big return on the ensuing kickoff, followed by a two-play scoring drive that paved the way for an 18-point third quarter that put Ellison away.
Ellison has now lost 24 straight games, but coach Trent Gregory said there was plenty to build on from the first half against Midway.
“We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and not taking care of the ball, but we’ll get there,” Gregory said. “We’ll make it happen; we’ll get there.”
Eagle quarterback Jacob Ledford showed a strong arm and nice accuracy in completing 19 of 28 passes for 192 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Ellison defense also continued its strong play, holding Midway to a field goal in the first quarter and forcing a turnover on downs in its own territory in the second quarter.
Ellison will now look to get in the win column against Killeen when it faces the Roos on Friday at Hood Stadium.
Second half haunts Harker Heights again
Harker Heights couldn’t have asked for a better first half against Belton on Friday.
The Knights scored 31 points in amassing a 17-point lead, thanks largely to 175 rushing yards by senior Marcus Anderson II, all before halftime.
But holding that lead, which has been problematic for the Knights this season, proved to be an issue again as Belton scored 21 unanswered points to rally for a 42-38 win.
The loss left Heights (0-4) still searching for its first win of the season after surrendering a double-digit lead for the third time this season.
Belton, meanwhile, got its first win of the season in both teams’ District 8-5A opener.
Tiger safety Malik Green had two interceptions in the second half, and Belton also recovered a Heights fumble in the second half. The Tigers scored 14 points off the takeaways.
The new defensive resolve came after Heights scored on all five of its first-half possessions.
As big as Anderson was for Heights, Brandon Rhoads was just as important for Belton, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns and returning a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
Rhoads’ final touchdown pulled Belton within 38-35 with 8:31 to play before Shane Stafford hit Andre Ewing for the go-ahead touchdown pass with 4:42 remaining in the game.
- Killeen (1-3, 1-0 8-5A) at Harker Heights (0-4, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Buckley Stadium): Fresh off its first win against Copperas Cove since 1995, Killeen faces a Harker Heights team still looking for its first win after surrendering a 21-point lead in a loss to Belton.
- Belton (1-3, 1-0) at Ellison (0-4, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday (Hood Stadium): The Eagles’ losing streak grew to 24 consecutive games with Friday’s loss at Midway, and the Eagles will be challenged once again as they face Belton, which is riding a wave of momentum after scoring the final 21 points against Harker Heights en route to its first win of the season.
- Shoemaker (2-2, 0-1) at Copperas Cove (2-2, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Both teams have standout junior quarterbacks who have been regularly producing impressive performances this season. This could prove to be the beginning of an interesting individual rivalry between Copperas Cove’s Manny Harris and Shoemaker’s Ziere Banner.
- Waco Midway (3-1, 1-0) at Temple (2-2, 1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Wildcats will have their hands full against the Panthers, who outside of a three-point road loss to A&M Consolidated have dominated the competition, winning by a combined score of 113-29.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1.1 — Yards-per-carry average for Killeen minus Daniel McCants’ production.
- 14 — Total yards for Shoemaker in the second half of its 37-27 loss to Temple.
- 175 — Rushing yards by Harker Heights senior Marcus Anderson II in the first half against Belton in a 42-38 loss.
- 2 — Wins Harker Heights had in 2009, the last time the Knights started the season 0-4.
- 6 — Plays for negative yardage Waco Midway had in the first half against Ellison. The plays added up to minus-51 yards.