It took four quarters to win the game, but the victory was secured before halftime.
With 3:19 remaining in the second quarter, Temple began a drive at its own 29-yard line. It lasted the duration of the half, included two successful fourth-down conversions and nearly gave the Wildcats some much-needed momentum in a game ripe with playoff implications.
It ended 1 yard short of the end zone, however, as Copperas Cove produced a stop on fourth-and-goal to maintain a 21-point lead en route to 51-14 victory.
After the game, Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch admitted he believed the defensive stand was instrumental in the outcome.
“I thought that was the key to the game,” he said. “If they score right there, their backs are so good, they can break free at any moment, and going into halftime leading 28-7 is a lot different than 28-14.
“I’ve been in games where guys (score quickly) and with this offense they’ve got, they are powerful. That was a big, big stop.”
The potential points proved to be insignificant in the one-sided affair, but the momentum it generated was undeniable.
Outside of a first-quarter, short-field
touchdown set up by a fumble recovery, Copperas Cove’s defense controlled the Wildcats’ offense until the final drive of the first half began.
With Temple’s starting quarterback Zach Allen sidelined with a shoulder injury, backup Kevin Anderson, along with running backs Gaylon Sanders and Jeff Carr, engineered a drive that survived two fourth-and-9 situations thanks to a Bulldawgs’ pass interference penalty and a 14-yard completion from Anderson to Erick Arizmendi to set up first-and-goal from the Copperas Cove 12-yard line.
After Anderson ran for a 6-yard gain, two of the senior’s passes fell incomplete before his fourth-down run was stuffed at the 1, causing the Wildcats (5-4, 3-3 District 8-5A) to go into halftime trailing 28-7.
The Bulldawgs (6-3, 4-2) took full advantage of Temple’s missed opportunity on the opening possession of the second half, needing just two plays before finding the end zone on a 50-yard pass from Robbie Seybold to Phillip Baptiste.
Temple head coach Mike Spradlin agreed with Welch’s assessment of the play, but also pointed to several other unsuccessful scoring opportunities in the first half that he believed led to his team’s downfall.
“It wouldn’t be unrealistic to say we could have scored 21 points in the first half,” Spradlin said. “But that is where we are at right now. It is the execution factor at this point. It’s not an effort thing at all. … What we have to do is play the game better.”
Roos rack up season high in total offense
Killeen head coach Sam Jones was just happy to get out of the game without any more injuries.
But the way his offense was churning up yards in the Roos’ 54-22 win over crosstown rival Ellison, there is plenty more to be happy about.
Despite being a little banged up afterward, with starting quarterback Garrett Gaskamp nursing an ankle injury, Killeen’s first-team offense was like a fine-tuned machine while pulling ahead 27-7 over the game’s first 17 minutes.
During the Roos’ first four offensive series, when Gaskamp was in, Killeen only reached a single third down and amassed 13 of their 26 first downs while racking up 323 of its season-high 567 yards of total offense.
“I thought we did a great job of being consistent, we mixed it up on them,” Jones said. “I thought (Ellison) did a good job of taking away McCants early, so we threw the ball to try and loosen them up. But we were consistent and, finally, the passing game worked along with the run.”
During those drives, the Roos averaged nearly 13.5 yards on their first 24 plays, 17 of those runs averaging 8.5 yards per carry and 7 passes averaging 25.6 yards per completion.
Early snafu doesn’t set Belton back
It was a play that could have set Belton back.
The Tigers fumbled the opening kickoff and set up Shoemaker deep inside their territory.
However, Ben Munoz picked off Ziere Banner’s first pass attempt of the game and got momentum back for Belton.
The Tigers then drove 11 plays for the touchdown, recovered an onside kick and scored again as they railed off 42 straight points on the Grey Wolves.
The turnover battle was even Friday — with each team having two — but Belton was efficient on offense and only punted once, late in the fourth quarter, while forcing Shoemaker to punt five times.
By the Numbers
- 13 — Times Temple failed to convert a third down during its 51-14 loss at home to Copperas Cove. On the bright side, however, the Wildcats responded by successfully converting six of their nine fourth-down attempts.
- 32 — Average length in yards of Waco Midway’s four scoring drives immediately following Harker Heights turnovers, each resulting for a combined 28 points in the Panthers’ 42-14 win Thursday.
- 4.2 —Difference in average yards per rush between Ellison senior Isiah Cowan (8.7), who ran 23 times for 200 yards, and the combination of the Eagles’ other top rushers Kaimen Roberson and Deon Burch (4.5), who combined for 63 yards on 14 carries, in Friday’s 54-22 loss to Killeen.
- 1.9 — Average yards per play when Shoemaker did not target or run Johnny Jefferson. The senior running back averaged 10.5 yards per touch and had 189 total yards in a 49-14 loss.
- Temple (5-4, 3-3 8-5A) at Killeen (7-2, 4-2), Thursday, 7 p.m. — The Roos have won two straight, including their 54-22 win over Ellison, and can clinch their fifth straight playoff appearance with a win over the longtime rival Wildcats, who haven’t played Killeen since 2001. Playing without Syracuse-committed QB Zach Allen, the Wildcats ran for 354 yards, led by 135 by Gaylon Sanders in a 51-14 loss to Copperas Cove. Allen’s status is unknown for Thursday night’s game.
- Belton (6-3, 3-3 8-5A) at Waco Midway (9-0, 6-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m. — The Tigers have to win and hope for some help in order to make the playoffs. But just winning will be tough as Belton has to go on the road and face the Panthers, who are just four points shy of a top-10 ranking this week.
- Ellison (0-9, 0-5 8-5A) at Shoemaker (1-8, 0-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m. (Hood Stadium) — Again, the Eagles head into their season finale against Shoemaker looking for their first win of the season. Shoemaker’s only win came in its second game and has since seen its season spiral downward with seven straight losses. Ellison has lost 19 straight.
- Harker Heights (4-5, 4-2 District 8-5A) at Copperas Cove (6-3, 4-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m. — For all the uncertainty facing District 8-5A teams entering the final week of the regular season, one thing is perfectly clear: The winner of this game is going to the playoffs. While other teams will be scoreboard watching on Friday night, desperately hoping to get a break or two in order to earn a postseason berth, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights will be focused solely on beating each other. But in such a tight district race, the loser of this game still has a chance to continue its season, depending on how the other games shake out.
Kevin Posival and Nick Talbot contributed to this report.