Killeen got off to a running start Friday night as Kadarius Marshall ran 69 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown in the first minute of the game, but it was a battle to the very end in the Roos’ come-from-behind 25-21 win over Shoemaker.
Heading into the matchup, the Roos knew they would have to battle for a full 48 minutes, even against a team mired in a 25-game losing streak.
“People can say what they want about Shoemaker,” said senior wide receiver D.J. Dormeus. “but they’re a scrappy team. You can’t look at them based on their record.
“They’re going to come out every single Friday night, every single Thursday night, every time they have a game, and they’re going to come out and fight.”
The Roos fell behind the Grey Wolves 14-6 when Mike Santos-Adames sacked Killeen quarterback James Terry and forced a fumble that Cameron Starling returned for an 18-yard touchdown.
Later in the first half, Chris Ingram sacked Grey Wolves’ quarterback Mark Walker for a safety and the Roos trailed 14-8.
A late 35-yard field goal from Jorge Juarez-Pena pulled the Roos within 14-11 at halftime.
Killeen head coach Neil Searcy had one message for his team at the break: Don’t panic.
“I knew we had it in us to come back in this football game, but I didn’t want us to push the panic button.”
Roo receiver Brandon Fox added, “Shoemaker is a great team and it took the first half to open our eyes.”
Still, the Grey Wolves led 21-11 heading into the final quarter,
“We scored in two plays on our first drive so we can score on these guys,” Dormeus said of the team’s mindset in the second half. “We just had to keep level-headed and keep going.”
Dormeus got the Killeen comeback started in the fourth quarter with a touchdown with 8:04 remaining.
Late in the fourth quarter, Marshall ended the game the way he started, by running 19 yards for a touchdown that put the Roos in front for good.
“We played better in the second half and well enough to win the game,” Searcy said. “But hats off to Shoemaker. Those kids played their tails off.
“That was a fight, and anytime these Killeen ISD teams hook up, you’re going to get that.”
The hard-earned win was another example of the Roos’ philosophy this season.
“It showed our team stayed together like we’ve been preaching all year,” Fox said.
The fight continues as Killeen will face District 12-6A co-leader Temple on Thursday at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“If we want to be district champions, we have to beat Temple,” Searcy said. “We have a short week but we have to go on in and see if we can get another win.”
Every Roo player knows this week’s game holds big significance for their season.
“That’s a huge game for us,” Fox said. “Temple has been playing very well this season.
“But I’m sure it will be a great game and we’ve just got to turn around, come off this win and keep the momentum.”
And while most teams take time to enjoy the win, it’s straight to work for the Roos.
“To be honest, this win is already in the back of our mind,” Dormeus said Friday night. “Because we know Temple is a big deciding factor in the district, so tomorrow we’re going to start preparing for Temple.”
The Roos host the Wildcats at 7 p.m. Thursday at Leo Buckley Stadium.