FORT HOOD — The field conditions were far from ideal, but it did not matter to Copperas Cove.
Playing at Hood Stadium, where long grass graces the sideline, Bulldawgs receiver Phillip Baptiste could not be slowed down, posting a 100-yard game to top the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.
Despite the dry conditions, Baptiste felt like he was stuck in cement at times.
“This grass feels like you are running in mud,” the senior said. “We had to change up the timing because this isn’t the same as playing on turf, but we got it together.”
Baptiste was his quarterback’s favorite target all evening, catching 11 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns as Copperas Cove defeated Ellison 48-28.
After the game, Bulldawgs coach Jack Welch agreed with his star receiver on the stadium’s playing conditions.
“The bottom line is that (the conditions) need to be appropriate to the game,” he said. “When I’ve got receivers falling down (it is not right). Last time we came here, three band members got hurt out here tripping in the grass. … It is extremely thick from the hash to the sideline.”
Nevertheless, Copperas Cove earned its first victory inside the stadium after losing to Killeen earlier this season at Fort Hood, and the Bulldawgs used an explosive start to take control.
Almost everything went Copperas Cove’s way in the first half as the Bulldawgs sandwiched five consecutive touchdown drives around its only two scoreless possessions.
After punting the ball away on its initial drive, Copperas Cove easily worked its way down a short field, needing just eight snaps to cover 46 yards, culminating with Tre Powell’s 14-yard touchdown reception from Manny Harris, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
Ellison (0-8, 0-4 District 8-5A) went three-and-out on its ensuing drive before losing a fumble on its next possession, and the Bulldawgs turned both opportunities into points as Shaq Fluelen scored consecutive touchdowns.
Trailing 21-0, the Eagles finally got on the scoreboard using a little trickery as Hayward Clay found quarterback Jacob Ledford for a 7-yard touchdown with 7:04 left before halftime.
“We did some really good things offensively,” Ellison coach Trent Gregory said. “I was real proud of the offensive staff and what they did … but we made some mistakes as well.”
Baptiste proved to be the biggest thorn in the Eagles’ side.
On the drive following Ellison’s touchdown, Baptiste hauled in an 11-yard touchdown before Copperas Cove (5-3, 3-2) forced a punt and took the ball 73 yards in less than two minutes. LeDarian Johnson capped off the drive by scoring on a 13-yard run to give the Bulldawgs a 34-7 halftime lead after the point after attempt went awry.
The Eagles had an opportunity to score before the end of the second quarter, but Copperas Cove recovered a fumble near the goal line after Ellison had four attempts to score within the 5-yard line.
“That was big,” Welch said. “That was huge. It was a momentum breaker, and if they would have scored right there (it could have triggered a comeback).”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org