TEMPLE — One year ago, Temple scored 63 points against Killeen in a regular-season finale but didn’t get the 15-point victory it ended up needing to remain in playoff contention.
On Friday night the Wildcats again produced 63 points against the Kangaroos, but this time Temple left the field with a much different feeling — that of becoming a champion.
Jeff Carr ran for 267 yards and two long touchdowns and Marques Hatcher rushed for 185 yards and three scores to pace a 589-yard ground attack as Temple beat Killeen 63-45 at Wildcat Stadium, giving the Wildcats a five-game win streak in District 8-5A and a share of their first district championship since 2007.
“It’s a big deal because we’ve got a staff and kids who bust their tail, and that’s what you want,” Temple third-year coach Mike Spradlin said.
“It’s a big win for our program and our kids. I’d like to keep saying that.”
Said Temple all-state senior linebacker Dominick Thompson: “It feels great. Like our coaches say, we work too hard all summer to not do good.”
Quarterback Chase Truelove ran for touchdowns of 21 and 51 yards and threw a 19-yard TD pass to Davion Curtis as Temple completed the regular season 7-3 overall and 6-1 in 8-5A, tied with defending champion Waco Midway for the league crown.
Seeking their first playoff win since 2003, the Wildcats will battle 2012 state finalist Cedar Hill (8-2) in a Class 5A Division II bi-district game at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. Midway (8-2, 6-1) seized 8-5A’s top D-II seed because of its 63-43 win at Temple early in district play.
“Now we have the opportunity to go into uncharted waters and win a playoff game,” Spradlin said. “I know Cedar Hill played Katy for a state title last year, but we’re not going in with any other thought than to give everything we’ve got.
“We’re not scared. We’re the kind of team that catches fire and can go far.”
Killeen (3-7, 3-4) needed to beat Temple to earn its sixth consecutive playoff berth, but its loss and Copperas Cove’s win over Harker Heights ended the Kangaroos’ postseason streak.
“(Temple’s) defense made some stops and their offense kept scoring the ball,” said Killeen 10th-year coach Sam Jones, whose team gained 557 yards but allowed 654. “They have a great offensive line and a great running back (Carr) who’s very elusive.”
Killeen seniors Daniel McCants and Garrett Gaskamp delivered huge performances in their final game.
McCants — who ran for 323 yards and five scores in Temple’s 63-56 win last year — rushed for 142 yards with a 55-yard touchdown and caught TD passes of 29 and 65 yards from Gaskamp, who passed for 368 yards and added two scoring runs. McCants rushed for 3,328 yards and 38 TDs in his final two seasons.
“I told them I’m proud of them and our leadership showed,” Jones said.
“Those guys have been with us so long and it’s been a good run. It’s not what we wanted (this season). We’ve got to get back to work.”
Carr’s 60-yard touchdown sprint gave Temple a 7-3 lead, but Killeen used Gaskamp’s 29-yard TD pass to McCants, Gaskamp’s 9-yard run and McCants’ 55-yard scoring burst to build a 23-14 advantage midway through the second quarter.
However, Temple gathered itself and rode its dominant blocking to take
control by scoring the next four touchdowns - Hatcher’s 16-yard run,
Carr’s 84-yard dash down the left sideline, Hatcher’s 17-yard rush for a
35-23 halftime lead and Truelove’s 19-yard TD pass to sophomore Curtis 39 seconds into the third quarter.
Killeen scored often enough to stay within striking distance, but TD
sprints of 51 yards by Truelove and 63 by Hatcher allowed the Wildcats to win comfortably.
Carr seemed primed to shoot past 300 yards, but Temple rested the speedy junior throughout the fourth quarter. He had done enough, and his Wildcats were district champions.
“It was nothing different — just go out and execute,” said Carr, who’s
rushed for 1,611 yards this season. “The holes opened up and they made it easy for me.”