COPPERAS COVE — After struggling to produce points for more than three quarters, the floodgates opened for Copperas Cove in the game’s closing minutes against A&M Consolidated on Friday.
The Bulldawgs posted 24 of their last 41 points in the game’s final 3:39, with Jayson Stanley’s 25-yard field goal capping off the furious rally with one second left on the clock.
The kick gave Copperas Cove just its second lead of the entire evening and appeared to ensure a memorable comeback. Instead, it set up one of the wildest finishes in school history.
A&M Consolidated’s Brandon Jackson fielded the ensuing squib kickoff near the 50-yard line and began running from one side of the field to the other before pitching the ball to teammate Derrick Dick. The junior then ran one direction, reversed his momentum, circled around would-be tacklers to the far side of the field and dashed down the sideline for a game-winning touchdown with no time remaining.
The Bulldawgs’ dramatic home opener ended in disappointment as the Tigers escaped with a 44-41 victory, but Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch believes the heartbreaking ending served as a well-timed reality check for his players.
“The bottom line is that was a great lesson of life,” he said. “(We play) 48 minutes, not 47:59. It’s 48 minutes. I thought I saw two or three blocks in the back, but it was so wild and crazy I don’t blame the officials or anybody else. It’s just one of those things. We had our chance.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Copperas Cove trailed 24-14 and appeared destined for defeat, but then first-year quarterback Manny Harris began playing like a seasoned veteran. The junior completed 11 of 17 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the quarter, finishing with a school record 516 yards to go with four touchdowns.
But it was not enough.
“We did everything we were coached to do, but stuff happens,” Stanley said. “We did everything we were supposed to do.”
Everything except make the necessary stop during the game’s final sequence.
“I’ve been in some wild contests, and when they get like that, anything can happen,” Welch said. “I was in one when I first came here against Georgetown that was very similar to this and their band ran out onto the field. They kept running around, throwing the ball back and forth like that and scored with their band out on the field at the end of the ballgame.
“You have got to capitalize on your opportunities, but I’ll say this, it was a heck of a football game.”
Ellison continues to falter
Ellison is under new leadership, but the result remains the same. The Eagles lost their 21st consecutive game Friday evening at Georgetown, where new Ellison head coach Trent Gregory suffered a 35-14 defeat in his debut.
Ellison never led, tying the score 7-7 in the first quarter before Georgetown posted a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Ellison cut Georgetown’s advantage in half, 28-14, thanks to a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Reggie Jackson. Despite the change in coaching, Ellison, like so many times before, is still forced to wait for next week as it continues to search for a way to end its two-year losing streak.
Third quarter dooms Harker Heights
Harker Heights appeared poised to open the season in style. The Knights held a 7-3 over Stony Point following the first quarter and extended it to 21-14 by halftime.
Everything looked favorable for Harker Heights’ new head coach Jerry Edwards to potentially earn a victory after accepting the position just a little more than a month ago.
But like Edwards hiring, which occurred following the sudden departure of Mike Mullins in June, the Tigers’ comeback was rapid and unexpected.
Stony Point third-quarter touchdown passes of 17, 60 and 20 yards spurred a comeback for the Tigers, who finished with 539 total yards of offense, including 375 passing yards from quarterbacks Damian Lindley and Aidan Barrera.
Harker Heights quarterback Troy Smith completed 11 of 19 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 13 times for 115 yards and a score.
- Copperas Cove (0-1) at Waco (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Bulldawgs suffered a season-opening defeat to A&M Consolidated last year as well, only to turn around and pound Waco 43-7 to begin a four-game winning streak.
- Ellison (0-1) vs. Manor (1-0) at Hood Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday: Manor crushed Waco University 40-0 in its opener and delivered Ellison a 39-12 defeat last season behind a big game from quarterback Chris Johnson, who graduated, leaving the offense in the hands of running back Tyrone Owens (1,800 yards, 21 touchdowns in 2012).
- Harker Heights (0-1) at Round Rock (0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Knights cannot afford another offensive collapse like the one suffered in the second half against Stony Point when they travel to Round Rock this week. The Dragons scored 42 points in a Week 0 loss to Temple.
- Leander Vandegrift (1-0) at Killeen (0-1) at Buckley Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Vipers came out in impressive fashion last week, defeating Round Rock McNeil 31-0. To avoid starting the season 0-2, the Roos are going to have to generate more of a ground game Friday. Killeen ran for only 99 yards in the loss to New Braunfels Canyon.
- Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León at Shoemaker, at Leo Buckley Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday: Last season the Grey Wolves picked up one of their two wins over Mexico’s Tigres. But it was not as easy as some would have expected.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 10.1 — Yards Copperas Cove quarterback Manny Harris (34 of 51, 516 yards) averaged per pass attempt against A&M Consolidated in his first varsity start.
- 91 — Seconds remaining in the game when Harker Heights scored its final points, making the 47-31 loss to Stony Point appear closer than it actually was.
- 1,032 — Days since Ellison won its last game, beating Shoemaker 47-14 on Nov. 5, 2010.
- 13 — Carries in Killeen’s loss to New Braunfels Canyon by Daniel McCants, who broke the single-season KISD rushing record last season.
- 12 — Seconds it took for Shoemaker to go from two points down to 16 down against Waco.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com