COPPERAS COVE — Nothing seems to surprise Manny Harris anymore.
After breaking the single-game passing record in his first varsity game and throwing for at least 300 yards in each game of the season, the junior quarterback might have produced his best game of the season Friday evening against Shoemaker. Harris accounted for more than 400 yards of offense and was involved in eight of the Bulldawgs’ nine touchdowns in a 63-41 victory.
But the performance had little effect on the signal caller, who just viewed his outing as another day at the office.
“It’s just football,” Harris said. “Everybody played good, and it happens when you play good. It feels good, but you’ve got to stay humble. I can’t go crazy about it. I can’t be praised.”
Others, however, would beg to differ.
Harris completed 27 of 40 passes for 353 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing 14 times for 73 yards and the Bulldawgs’ lone rushing touchdown.
Like Harris, Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch views Harris’ hot start to the season as a byproduct of the rest of the team coming together.
“It is a total program (effort),” he said. “But Manny is a talent. There is no doubt about it. He’s throwing the ball well, he’s threading the needle, guys are catching the football, and the offensive line is giving him protection.”
Harris delivered touchdowns to four different receivers with Phillip Baptiste serving as his favorite. The senior caught 12 passes for 185 yards and four touchdowns to help the Bulldawgs (3-2, 1-1 District 8-5A) bounce back from a disappointing loss to Killeen last week at Hood Stadium.
While the Kangaroos were able to snap an 11-game losing streak to Copperas Cove, the Grey Wolves, who have never beaten the Bulldawgs in nine tries, could not.
“We did too many bad things against a good football team, and it showed up on the scoreboard,” Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, lick our wounds, put a smile on our face and get ready to do it again.”
With dual-threat quarterback Ziere Banner, who was 23-of-43 passing for 374 yards and four touchdowns to go with 99 yards and another score on the ground, leading the way, the Grey Wolves (2-3, 0-2) went back and forth with the Bulldawgs in the first half. Banner’s five-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half tied the game at 21-21, but things began to unravel on Shoemaker’s next drive.
After forcing Copperas Cove to go three-and-out, the Grey Wolves’ drive stalled near midfield, forcing them to punt. A high snap led to a big loss as Bulldawgs junior defensive lineman Tyrell Thompson made a tackle to turn the ball over on downs deep in Shoemaker territory.
Harris only needed one play to capitalize, finding Hunter McVeigh for a 21-yard touchdown to put Copperas Cove up 28-21. The Bulldawgs followed up with a defensive stand, forcing the Grey Wolves to punt, and, again, Copperas Cove’s quick-strike offense made the most of the opportunity.
Harris completed three passes on the four-play, 55-second drive, including a 25-yard strike to Baptiste for the duo’s third score of the first half.
“I was focused,” Baptiste said. “I knew we practiced real hard this week and we were going to come together.”
After taking a 35-21 lead into halftime, the Bulldawgs dominated the second half, extending their lead to 63-35 before Nahome Anderson, who finished with a game-high 200 yards receiving, hauled in a 59-yard touchdown from Banner with 28 seconds left to account for the game’s final points.
“We responded good tonight,” Welch said. “We had a tough loss last week, and we are a very inexperienced and young football team. So to see us grow up and continue to battle like that, as a coach, it makes you feel very warm inside.”