COPPERAS COVE — Caine Garner could not wait anymore.

After lightning delays led to the cancellation of Copperas Cove’s season opener last week, the Bulldawgs senior quarterback returned to the field Friday anxiously anticipating the kickoff.

“We were ready to explode as an offense,” Garner said. “We had such a letdown last week, so we couldn’t wait to come out and play this week.”

It did not take long for Copperas Cove to make the most of the opportunity it waited for.

The Bulldawgs scored on their first possession of the game and posted 286 total yards of offense before halftime en route to a 27-14 victory against Mexico’s Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon.

Following the win, Copperas Cove senior receiver Josh Canete, who caught eight passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns, admitted the outcome was worth the wait.

“We just wanted to come out strong,” he said, “and fortunately we did.

“We just wanted to prove that our passing game was better than last year.”

Garner completed his first four passes, including a 14-yard touchdown to Canete, giving the Bulldawgs a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

The score held for the duration of the period, but early in the second quarter, the Bulldawgs inflated their cushion.

With 8:46 remaining in the half, Garner and Canete connected for another score on a 15-yard pass before senior Gabe Williams hauled in a 28-yard touchdown from Garner.

The extra point was amiss, and Copperas Cove entered halftime with a 20-0 lead.

Through the first two quarters, Garner completed 14 of 18 passes for 217 yards, finding four different receivers, including Kendall Small and Canete, who each caught six passes before halftime. Small finished with 7 catches for 77 yards, and Williams caught three passes for 55 yards.

“Our offense did a good job of getting us a lead,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “Then, we could just work, and that’s what we did.”

Following halftime, the Bulldawgs recorded their final points of the game as Jaylon Hannah punched in a 4-yard touchdown to complete a three-play, 30-yard drive to start the third quarter.

Trailing 27-0, the Tigres (1-1) finally responded, trimming the deficit to 27-6 with 8:20 remaining in the third quarter before capitalizing on an interception by converting the turnover into the game’s final touchdown.

Led by Garner, who was 17 of 26 passing for 249 yards in the win, Copperas Cove (1-0) finished the game with 361 total yards of offense, while limiting Nuevo Leon to 228 yards and forcing eight punts.

“I thought we had a really good night overall defensively,” Welch said. “We didn’t let anything get behind us, and we had a few runs up the middle that I didn’t like, but it was very few.”

While the win was nice, like Garner, Canete was simply relieved to finally return to the field.

“We were very excited to come out and play this team that traveled eight hours to be here,” he said. “It was just a really exciting experience.”

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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