COPPERAS COVE — Jack Welch did not care about the final score.
Copperas Cove’s longtime head coach simply wanted his team to grow together in its season opener.
In the end, he got everything he wanted and more.
The Bulldawgs’ offense tallied 878 total yards of offense and cruised to a 62-38 victory, upsetting Class 5A No. 4 A&M Consolidated at home.
To Welch, however, the result was just a byproduct.
“Victory is in learning for us right now,” he said. “A lot of people can’t understand that, but I don’t even know what the score was. We were trying to win a ballgame, but more importantly for us, we are learning to be a team.”
The Bulldawgs certainly looked like a cohesive unit in their debut.
Senior quarterback Manny Harris completed 30 of 43 passes for 492 yards and four touchdowns, two running backs — Trent Canion and LeDarian Johnson — topped the 125-yard plateau, and Copperas Cove’s defense contained the Tigers explosive playmaker Derrick Dick enough to prevent him from running wild.
“Our offensive line had an amazing game, and the running backs played great,” Harris said, “but it all starts with our offensive line.”
Defensively, Copperas Cove senior
Tyrell Thompson saw everything he wanted from his unit as well.
“We had some adversity in the first half, but we fought hard,” the defensive end said. “At halftime, we adjusted, and came out with the victory.”
The game opened with a flurry of offense as the team’s combined to score 31 points in the first quarter, sparked by a 20-yard field goal by A&M Consolidated quarterback/kicker Matt Hickson with 8:29 left in the period.
A little more than a minute later, Copperas Cove responded as Manny Harris and Tre Powell connected for the first of two touchdowns in the period.
The lead developed on the 29-yard scoring pass quickly evaporated, though, as Hickson found receiver Rodney Jernigan for a 75-yard touchdown, but Powell scored on a 22-yard pass from Harris with 4:47 left in the quarter, giving the Bulldawgs a 14-10 lead.
Copperas Cove (1-0) increased its cushion to 11 points, 21-10 on Trent Canion’s short run into the end zone with 2:09 remaining.
The torrid pace slowed in the second quarter.
Tigers receiver Daniel Zivney answered midway through the period by pulling down a 9-yard touchdown, but Stanley hit a 30-yard field goal with 1:41 left, and the Bulldawgs took a 24-17 lead into the locker room.
A&M Consolidated (0-1) trimmed the deficit to three points following Michael Armantrout’s 69-yard interception return for a touchdown, making the score 27-24 with 6:44 left in the third quarter, but the Tigers could not get any closer. Copperas Cove pushed its lead to 41-24 early in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Although the outcome was one-sided, Welch does not believe the final score reflects the caliber of either his team or its opponent.
“The fact is win or lose this game tonight, we are still the same team,” Welch said. “They really could have beat us if they got a break here and there.”