COPPERAS COVE — For the first time, Jack Welch regretted his hospitality.
For the past three years, Copperas Cove’s head coach has welcomed former Mexico national champion Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon with open arms, spending about a week each offseason practicing with the team and helping them adjust to the style of play in the United States.
And every year, the Bulldawgs have easily handled the team based out of Monterey in their regular season encounter.
This season was no different as Copperas Cove cruised to a 43-17 victory Friday at Bulldawg Stadium, but Welch saw a lot of his style infused within the Tigres’ philosophy. Making matters worse, at times they were beating the Bulldawgs at their own game.
“That’s probably not too smart on our behalf,” Welch said of practicing with the Tigres before playing them. “They come up and they go through our offseason program, we show them film, we teach them plays, and then they come out here and almost whoop us with them.”
In the end, however, allowing the Tigres to view the inner workings of Copperas Cove’s program was of little benefit. The Bulldawgs led 31-7 early in the third quarter as quarterback Manny Harris continued his hot start to the season.
The junior topped the 300-yard plateau for a third consecutive game after breaking the old single game school record of 293 passing yards in the season opener. Harris completed 21 of 30 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, including a 41-yard scoring strike to receiver Hunter McVeigh 31 seconds into the game.
“The offensive line blocked great and gave Manny the perfect amount of time to throw it,” McVeigh said. “He just laid it on me.”
McVeigh was one of eight receivers to make a catch in the game, finishing with five catches for 97 yards. Teammate Tre Powell led the Bulldawgs with five catches for 108 yards, while Phillip Baptiste (60 yards) and Derris Prater (31 yards) also finished with five catches apiece.
Despite the early touchdown, Harris was not pleased with the way the Bulldawgs’ offense began the game.
“We started off kind of dragging,” he said. “But then we picked it up at the end of the half.”
After forcing a three-and-out, Copperas Cove (2-1) was unable to do anything with its second possession, losing a fumble after faking a punt. Despite receiving the ball in good field position at the Bulldawgs’ 38-yard line, Tigres quarterback Jorge Chavez threw into traffic and Copperas Cove corner back Bashshar Wilson snagged his first of two interceptions in the half.
It proved in vain, however, as each team punted on its next possessions. With six minutes left in the first quarter, Copperas Cove began a 55-yard scoring drive, ending with Harris finding fullback Shaq Fluelen for a four-yard touchdown. McVeigh’s ensuing two-point conversion run put the Bulldawgs ahead 15-0.
The Tigres (0-3) got on the scoreboard with one second remaining in the quarter on Carlos Sanchez’s three-yard touchdown. But after swapping interceptions on a pair of two-play possessions to begin the second quarter, the Bulldawgs scored on Trent Canion’s 25-yard run following Wilson’s interception deep in the Tigres’ territory.
Neither team scored again in the first half until Jayson Stanley hit a 34-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining to make the score 25-7 heading into the third quarter.
The Tigres cut the score to 31-17 early in the fourth, but never threatened to make a comeback as Harris found Powell for a 37-yard score and senior safety Jerry McCloud took an interception 36 yards for a touchdown within 57 seconds of each other.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com