The Killeen Kangaroos would’ve had to score 28 consecutive points in the second half, but head coach Sam Jones believed there was magic left to overcome a 20-7 halftime deficit and beat Mansfield 35-20 in their Division I-5A bi-district playoff game Friday at Waxahachie.
Junior running back Daniel McCants scored on a 12-yard run to cap a quick four-play drive to open the second half, but it was Mansfield that scored 21 straight after that to beat the Roos 41-21 in Killeen’s first 5A playoff game since 2001.
“We’ve had injuries after injuries, and people doubting us, saying that we’re not getting to the playoffs,” said senior defensive back Deric Roberson. “When we finally got here, it was like a sigh of relief that we just made it. But it doesn’t matter because we lost.”
The magic was gone.
Killeen finished 7-4 in its first 5A season in more than a decade and made the playoffs for a fifth straight season despite the naysayers’ belief that the Roos’ recent success — 6-4 in the playoffs from 2008-11 — wouldn’t translate from 4A to 5A. Killeen won four of seven games in the second half after either trailing or being tied at halftime.
“The kids fought hard the whole time. They did what they’ve done all year long — people say they can’t do this and they can’t do that and they just keep showing up,” Jones said. “This year’s over with. We’ll go back to offseason, we’ll correct some things, we’ll look at this film, but, just remember this, don’t ever count the Roos out.”
Rally leaves Cove wishing for a few extra minutes
Jack Welch believes his team needed a little more time.
In its playoff opener against Cedar Hill, Copperas Cove found itself trailing 35-7 to start the fourth quarter. Despite scoring 21 straight points, the Bulldawgs’ comeback attempt fell short and their season ended with a 35-28 loss.
While Copperas Cove’s head coach wishes he had a few extra minutes to work with against Cedar Hill, he would much prefer his team have additional games left on the schedule, so his players could reach their full potential.
“We still haven’t peaked,” Welch said. “That is the shame of it. I love these players, and our best game is still coming.”
Copperas Cove’s final game resembled the team’s season as a whole as the Bulldawgs were faced with significant adversity.
After a 5-1 start to the season, Copperas Cove lost consecutive district games for the first time since 2003 and lost junior running back and then-District 8-5A leading rusher Vondareaz King for a pair of games. The tailspin was almost too steep to pull out of, but the Bulldawgs rebounded to win their final three games of the season and clinch a ninth consecutive playoff appearance.
Things did not get any easier in the postseason, however.
The Longhorns scored on their first possession Saturday afternoon, and Copperas Cove lost a fumble on its first play from scrimmage, setting up a lopsided opening to the Division II-5A bi-district playoff game as Cedar Hill led 28-7 at halftime.
A touchdown late in the third quarter extended the Longhorns’ advantage to 28 points before the Bulldawgs put together a last-ditch effort to try and save their season. Copperas Cove (7-4, 5-2) converted fourth downs, recovered an onside kick and executed nearly flawlessly on offense during the final 12 minutes, but simply ran out of time, according to Welch.
Nevertheless, the 19-year Cove coach admitted he could not be any prouder of his team’s effort in the defeat or in the season overall.
“The backbone of this team was just shown,” Welch said following the loss to Cedar Hill. “This is not a flashy football team. I knew going into this year, we are going to have fight and scratch and dig and claw and get everything we can. To play as well as we did is a real testament to their character.”
DeSoto’s depth wears down Harker Heights
Mike Mullins needed more bodies, and maybe a few more bullets.
After missing several key players throughout the regular season due to injuries, including Under Armour All-American lineman Darius James and talented junior tailback Marcus Anderson II, among others, the Knights just didn’t have the depth to compete with No. 2 DeSoto.
In Harker Heights’ first playoff game since 2006, the end result was a dominating 62-15 loss Saturday in their Division I-5A bi-district playoff game as the fast-paced Eagles ran off 48 consecutive points over the game’s final three quarters.
Yet for the first 10 minutes, the depth-deprived Knights held a rare 15-14 lead on mighty DeSoto (11-0), keeping pace thanks to some big-play potential rarely seen during the regular season as underclassmen Troy Smith and Anderson each combined on 55-yard-plus plays on the second and third drives of the game.
“We hit them with the big (59-yard) screen, and we felt like if we could control the ball a little bit — but man, they’re just so explosive and … we just didn’t have enough bodies to run with them,” Mullins said of the Smith-to-Anderson screen pass that set up a 5-yard touchdown run for Tyler Brown to go ahead 15-14 late in the first quarter.
Depth and injuries still proved to be an issue despite the return of James, the nation’s No. 1-rated center prospect who saw his first action Saturday since breaking his foot in the first half of the season opener Aug. 29 against Round Rock Stony Point.
While James saw considerable time on both sides of the ball, the 6-foot-5, 320-pound behemoth was admittedly winded and struggled to stay on the field for long stretches of time.
The Knights (4-7), who ended the season on a three-game losing streak, were also without 300-pound two-way linemen Nate and Nigel Leota, who missed the game with personal issues, making already thin offensive and defensive lines even thinner.
“We were so depth-depleted that we couldn’t get guys on and off the field in time that were just hurting,” Mullins said. “Whatever bullets I had we used up pretty quick.”
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562
Clay Whittington and Alex Byington contributed to this report.