Regardless of who fans were cheering for, nobody could believe their eyes.
Copperas Cove’s quarterback broke a pair of school records en route to a 500-yard debut as the Bulldawgs and A&M Consolidated combined to score 44 points in the final four minutes of Friday’s season opener, but that is the forgettable part. The game’s final second, however, is captivating the world.
Video evidence of one of the wildest plays in Central Texas football history emerged over the weekend, and people cannot stop watching.
“I’ve always been dreaming about that one moment, and when I saw it happen on Friday night, I knew that was the play I’ve been waiting for my whole high school career,” A&M Consolidated film staff member Chad Ruesink said of his recording. “The excitement it brought out in everyone ... It is the most amazing sports ... no, the most amazing moment in my life.”
Just moments after a go-ahead field goal gave Copperas Cove a 41-38 lead against the Tigers with one second remaining on the clock, football gold was sifted out of an impossible situation.
A&M Consolidated standout Brandon Jackson, who accounted for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the game, received a pitch from teammate Luke Benden on the ensuing squib kickoff near the 50-yard line and crisscrossed the field before tossing the ball to teammate Derrick Dick. The junior then ran one direction, pivoted his momentum 180 degrees before backtracking around would-be tacklers to the far side of the field and dashing past the visiting Tigers’ bench for a game-winning touchdown with no time remaining.
It simultaneously sent A&M Consolidated’s sideline into a frenzy and dropped the jaws of dismayed Copperas Cove fans.Despite where people fit in the emotional spectrum, everybody left Bulldawg Stadium shaking their heads at what transpired, and in the days since, Ruesink’s video, shot from the Tigers’ sideline, has gained national exposure, generating 315,000 views and counting on YouTube as of Monday evening.
Additionally, among others, ESPN, Fox Sports, USA Today, the Washington Post, Bleacher Report and Deadspin have featured it, while social networking has pushed it to the farthest reaches of cyberspace.
The play was named Best of the Best in an ESPN SportsNation poll, winning by a landslide as it claimed 87 percent of the vote over a recent one-handed catch by Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Not surprisingly, the play earned 98 percent of the vote in Texas.
During a Friday night episode of SportsCenter, it was shown alongside a caption of the words “Greatest play ever?”
While the final second is receiving overwhelming attention, the game’s final four minutes were jam-packed with suspense as the Bulldawgs and Tigers exchanged six scoring drives leading up to the Dick’s mesmerizing run into the end zone.
“The game itself was special,” Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. “The way we came back, that was special.”
The Bulldawgs fell into an early 17-0 hole before entering halftime trailing 17-7 after turning the ball over twice, but in his first varsity start, Copperas Cove quarterback Manny Harris shined in the second half. The junior set school records for passing attempts and passing yards in a game by completing 34 of 51 passes for 516 yards and four touchdowns.
More importantly, he engineered three fourth-quarter touchdown drives in a 2:22 span, helping the Bulldawgs erase a 24-14 deficit to start the period.
“It was the wildest game I’ve been a part of,” Harris said in the immediate aftermath of the loss.
Harris’ final touchdown pass to Hunter McVeigh gave Copperas Cove a 38-31 lead with 1:17 remaining, but 39 seconds later, the Tigers tied the game, setting up a six-play, 62-yard drive ending with Jayson Stanley’s 25-yard field goal that cleared the uprights with one second on the clock.
The rest is quickly becoming one of the most famous plays in Texas sports history and one of A&M Consolidated head coach David Raffield’s most treasured moments.
“I’ve had a lot of success in my career, and I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” he said. “When we scored that touchdown to win at the end, to look into the eyes of the kids and see the true joy and excitement they had, those are gifts from God.”