WACO — Copperas Cove feels it has nobody to blame but itself.
The Bulldawgs knew they would be challenged by DeSoto’s highly acclaimed defense, and they simply had no answer.
The No. 2 Eagles scored 46 consecutive points en route to a 67-21 bi-district victory to open the Class 5A playoffs.
While Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch was pleased with his offense’s overall performance, he admits his defense was overwhelmed.
“We didn’t stop them,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. You can sugarcoat it all you want, but the fact is they were more athletic, they’re a powerful football team, and we couldn’t stop them.”
DeSoto finished the game with 808 total yards of offense, converted all 11 of its third downs and scored eight out of nine times once they reached the red zone.
Like his coach, Copperas Cove senior Bashshar Wilson felt the Bulldawgs did not rise to the occasion.
“We knew what they were going to do,” the defensive back said, “we practiced it all week, but we just couldn’t make the stops when we needed to.”
The Bulldawgs were able to keep pace early, but the game quickly got away from them in the second quarter.
DeSoto scored on the first play from scrimmage as TCU commit Desmon White found Chris Lacy for a 74-yard touchdown, but Copperas Cove responded with a 6-play scoring drive. Facing third-and-12, Manny Harris delivered a deep pass to Hunter McVeigh, who went 56 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
A pair of Eagles touchdowns sandwiched the Bulldawgs’ turnover on downs, and DeSoto held a 21-7 advantage with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Copperas Cove cut the lead to seven points on the ensuing drive, however, converting three third downs and a fourth down before Derrick Giles was on the receiving end of Harris’ 12-yard touchdown strike with one second on the clock.
The Bulldawgs (6-5) would not score again in the first half.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot through everything we did,” Harris said. “We didn’t come out and execute.”
DeSoto (11-0) constructed a 41-14 lead before Copperas Cove junior Tre Powell made a catch along the sideline and fought off tackles down to the 1-yard line, where the ball was stripped and recovered by the Eagles, who regained possession and momentum. Five plays later, White tossed his second touchdown pass, finding Kevin Thomas in the end zone from 7 yards out, giving the Eagles a 48-14 halftime advantage.
Similar scenarios happened twice more in the second half.
Late in the third quarter, the Bulldawgs lost a fumbled snap at DeSoto’s 1-yard line, and then early in the fourth quarter, they turned it over on downs at the Eagles’ 2-yard line. DeSoto responded with touchdowns following each turnover.
“We had to score when we got down there,” Welch said. “When we know that, we try just a little bit harder, and we made a couple fumbles we don’t usually make because we are out of our comfort zone.”
Led by Harris, who completed 23 of 48 passes for 366 yards, Copperas Cove finished with 421 total yards as receivers Baptiste (9-133) and Powell (5-117) both topped the 100-yard plateau, but it was not enough to prevent DeSoto from advancing to an area-round game against Coppell.
And Baptiste pointed the finger of blame at himself.
“We were just stopping ourselves,” Baptiste said. “We were making too many mistakes. We had a game plan, we didn’t come out and execute it right, and they beat us.”