WACO — Copperas Cove won by 46 points, but Jack Welch was ready to punish his team.
The Bulldawgs rebounded from a disappointing 44-41 defeat by delivering its second consecutive game with more than 500 yards of offense, but special teams blunders left the longtime head coach extremely angry. On the heels of last week’s gaffe that allowed A&M Consolidated to win on a kickoff return for a touchdown with no time left on the clock, Waco scored twice on kickoff returns Friday evening.
The plays were not enough to keep the Lions in the game, but they certainly helped put the Bulldawgs in the dog house with their coach.
“I’m not pleased,” Welch said. “It is something we’ve got to get corrected now. Right now. We might get off the bus tonight and go to work. I’ve done it before.”
While Welch was upset
about his team’s mistakes, he could not have been happier with the result. The Bulldawgs defeated Waco 70-24 at Waco ISD Stadium, outscoring the Lions 36-7 in the second half.
Outside of the two kickoff returns for touchdowns — something that had never happened to Welch in his coaching career prior to Friday — the Bulldawgs were on point on both sides of the ball. For the second consecutive week, junior quarterback Manny Harris shined.
After breaking the school record for passing yards in a game by throwing for more than 500 yards in his first varsity start, Harris completed 27 of 42 passes for 336 yards and five touchdowns, including three to receiver Phillip Baptiste.
“We just work all the time during the summer, and we hang out a lot,” Harris said of his connections with Baptiste. “We just throw and catch a lot.”
Against Waco, the pair connected nine times as Baptiste finished with 132 receiving yards after catching 13 passes for 256 yards and a score last week.
“During the summer, we were working every day,” Baptiste said. “Now, in the games, we are connecting.”
Including a one-yard rushing touchdown for the game’s first score, Baptiste finished with four touchdowns in the first half, including two within less than a minute of one another late in the second quarter, helping Copperas Cove (1-1) put a strangle hold on the game by halftime.
After a slow start to the game, Harris began to regain the form that helped him to a 254-yard fourth quarter in the season opener.
The Bulldawgs went three-and-out on their initial possession before Harris engineered nine-play, 56-yard scoring drive capped off with Baptiste’s one-yard run on a fly sweep.
Then the Lions (1-1) took a page out of the Tigers’ book from last week as senior Tyler Taylor, who also produced a 102-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter, ran the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to tie the score with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter.
The score remained deadlocked until one second was left in the first quarter, when Harris found Baptiste for the tandem’s first of three touchdowns before halftime.
“Manny is doing a good job right now of getting his reads,” Welch said. “He is threading that needle and it is pretty impressive.”
Bulldawgs senior J.D. Post picked off Derrick Scott’s pass early in the second quarter, but Copperas Cove did not get anything out of the drive despite starting at Waco’s 10-yard line. Junior kicker Jayson Stanley missed a 27-yard field goal, and the Lions capitalized on the following drive by hitting a 33-yard field goal to pull within four points, 14-10.
Waco kicker Jason Diaz miss hit the ensuing kickoff, and Copperas Cove started at the Lions’ 10-yard line for a second consecutive possession and Stanley took full advantage this time, nailing a 28-yarder to extend the Bulldawgs’ lead to 17-10.
But Copperas Cove was not finished.
After Waco turned the ball over on downs, Harris and Baptiste connected for consecutive 4-yard touchdown passes with the Bulldawgs recovering a fumble on the kickoff in between.
The combo would connect one more time in the half, on a 23-yard completion to set up Stanley’s 37-yard field goal as time expired in the half, giving Copperas Cove a 34-17 lead.
In the half, Harris completed 16 of 28 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns with Baptiste hauling 107 yards on six receptions.
“We just bounced back from last game,” Harris said. “We had intensity and had worked hard all week.”