Almost everything was going Copperas Cove’s way in the first half. And even when things went awry, it was all right.
Midway through the second quarter, Bulldawgs quarterback Robbie Seybold sprinted out of the pocket looking for the end zone, but a dozen yards into his run, the ball was knocked out and sent bouncing along the turf.
Shoemaker, however, could not pounce on it in the red zone, and Cove receiver Phillip Baptiste scooped it and ran into the end zone, giving the Bulldawgs a 31-point advantage en route to a 45-6 victory at Leo Buckley Stadium on Thursday evening.
“Just like I told (Baptiste), ‘A blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while,’” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said of the play. “If you are at the right place at the right time, you never know. But the example there is that Phillip wasn’t just standing around, he was down blocking, he was in the game, and our receivers do a good job of that. He was there at the point of contact, so he was able to do that.”
In addition to getting a few lucky breaks, Copperas Cove (4-1, 2-0) had a sound all-around performance, totaling 398 yards, while holding Shoemaker to just 156 yards of offense, including 78 for Grey Wolves running back Johnny Jefferson, who entered the game as District 8-5A’s top rusher (199.25 yards per game).
The Dawgs’ defense rarely allowed Jefferson to find room to run, containing him at or behind the line of scrimmage eight times and giving up just three runs of 10 yards or longer to the senior.
“That was very big, especially when they got a lead, and we are running the ball,” Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall said. “They could just pin their ears back and come get him, and that is just what they did.”
The Grey Wolves struggled all evening to move the ball, but had a particularly tough time in the first half. Shoemaker went into halftime with just 59 yards of offense and did not record a first down until early in the second quarter.
By that point, though, Copperas Cove was on cruise control. The Bulldawgs needed just 11 seconds to claim a lead it would never relinquish as Vondareaz King took the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown.
The highlight run down the left sideline was just the beginning for King. The junior running back finished 109 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and threw a touchdown pass.
“Vondareaz is very much in the role we had for Orlando Thomas a couple of years ago,” Welch said. “Vondareaz can be a quarterback. He can pass well, so he is a multiple ballplayer. So, when you have kids that can do those things, it makes you more versatile.”
Following defensive back Demarkos White’s series-ending interception on Shoemaker’s first possession, the Bulldawgs needed just six plays to cash in on the short field as Seybold found Baptiste for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Bulldawgs forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but got stuffed inside the Grey Wolves’ 10-yard line and had to settle for an Issac Ogeda 26-yard field goal.
Copperas Cove’s defense would step up again on the following drive, forcing another three-and-out to set up a seven-play, 51-yard scoring drive assisted by a Shoemaker penalty that converted a fourth-down situation for the Bulldawgs.
Instead of forcing a field goal attempt, the Shoemaker penalty kept the drive alive for Cove and King took full advantage, scoring on a 7-yard run three snaps later, and the Bulldawgs took a 24-0 advantage into the second quarter.
A little over five minutes into the second quarter, the Bulldawgs received their lucky bounce, and Baptiste scooped up Seybold’s fumble for a touchdown, capping a run of 31 unanswered points to open the game.
“The team played good,” Baptiste said. “The line got off good, Robbie had good throws, and it was just a good night.”
With a huge cushion to work with, Copperas Cove backup quarterback Nick DePrisco entered the game, but had a pass picked off by Ziere Banner. The interception set up the Grey Wolves only scoring drive of the half as Johnny Jefferson capped off a 32-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.