• December 19, 2014

Ground game lifts Roos

Killeen mirrors 1995 team, uses rushing attack to get first victory in 18 years over Copperas Cove

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Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Mon Oct 13, 2014.

Richard Daniels still remembers the Roos’ 37-14 win over the Bulldawgs in 1995.

“We didn’t throw the ball that much,” said Killeen’s current co-offensive coordinator. “We ran the ball a lot that game.”

After the 1995 season, Killeen lost to Copperas Cove 11 times in 17 seasons, before upsetting the Bulldawgs 47-38 last Friday.

On three catches, Daniels notched 22 of his team’s 67 total receiving yards. Much like last Friday’s win over Cove — when Daniel McCants rushed for 276 yards and six touchdowns — the 1995 Roos opted for a ground-heavy attack against Cove, led by Deandre Pettus’ 140 yards and three scores.

The late September 1995 contest also marked punter Jeremy Mulchay’s first game as Killeen’s kicker.

“I was a nervous wreck,” said the current facilities manager at Paceline Collision Center in Killeen. “I just didn’t want to let anybody down, didn’t want to let my teammates down. ... (I) just wanted to get rid of those initial butterflies, just to know that your team has your back and you have their back. It was a blast.”

Mulchay only had to punt twice, and averaged 38.5 yards. He converted all five extra-point attempts, and his team racked up 20 first downs and attempted no field goals.

Daniels said ball control was the key to winning.

“It was a real physical game,” he said. “I think we out-physicaled them. We had a lot more speed, too, than they had.”

Mulchay remembered getting “lit up” after a punt.

“I got hit harder than anyone I had gotten hit by in my high school career,” he said. “Copperas Cove special teams were unbelievable at that time.”

For Cove, Jeremy Shannon threw touchdown strikes of 24 and 15 yards to William Fields, as Cove shortened Killeen’s lead to 21-14 before halftime. Chris Grose picked up 128 yards on 24 carries.

Building a juggernaut

In 1995, Jack Welch’s second season as Cove head coach, the Bulldawgs were building into today’s juggernaut, posting a 2-8 record.

“We used to think of Copperas Cove as a stat team,” Daniels said. “Until coach Welch got there and started turning things around, that’s how things were. ... Things are different now. He’s built this program. He’s done a good job with the kids out there and changing the culture into a winning program.”

Temple, Waco, Killeen and Ellison locked into a four-way tie for the playoffs that season. Jerry Bomar’s Kangaroos lost the coin flip.

Last Friday, Dawg fans packed the visiting bleachers in a sea of blue.

In 1995, maroon Killeen fans packed the rows of old Bulldog Stadium, Mulchay said.

Like the early to mid-’90s when the Roos more frequently beat Cove, Daniels said he expected his team to beat a more formidable Dawg pack last Friday.

“That win wasn’t really a big deal to us back then,” Daniels said. “And this one, because we hadn’t beaten them in a long time, it was a really big deal.”

While Bulldawg fan and 27-year Cove resident Charles Lyons said he doesn’t expect other local schools to attain Cove’s level of consistent success and thought that Cove would handily defeat Killeen last Friday, he lauded the play of McCants and the Roos’ offensive line.

“I don’t think a team should have to live with 15 to 18 years of losing,” he said. “Killeen’s win shows that Cove can be beat because they aren’t invincible. ... I respect the fact that they played that game, won that game, and it’s good for football in the area.”

Ten-year Killeen resident Tai Nanai still puts Cove as the best District 8-5A team, and was “shocked” at Killeen’s first win in nearly two decades.

The win also surprised Nathan Bailey, who played for Killeen in 2001, and said Killeen ISD schools are competing at a higher level.

“Any given Friday, anybody can lose,” he said. “A lot of Killeen kids go to Cove because I think they feel that the Killeen teams never compete. I think (Friday’s game) is going to help a lot of the Killeen kids that are talented, to stay in Killeen and realize that these schools are just as good.”

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