By Angel Verdejo and Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
With Copperas Cove's convincing win over Belton on Friday, in which the Bulldawgs led 31-7 going in the fourth quarter, much of the first-team offense was able to sit and watch the final 12 minutes.
That also meant the future of Cove's running game getting a chance to shine.
Playing behind senior running back Brandon Hamilton (24 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns, junior Chans Colbert and sophomore Vondareaz King made the most of their opportunities, just as Hamilton did the last few years behind William Randolph (Texas A&M) and Brandin Byrd (North Texas).
Colbert and King split carries during Cove's final two drives, combining for 105 yards and a Colbert 19-yard score.
"They're very strong and they're getting better as time goes on," Cove head coach Jack Welch said. "It's a great opportunity for them to get to come in like this and not have all the pressure being put on them while they're so young, and being able to flourish as they grow. And that's what they're doing."
Knights take to the air
Through their first three games, the Knights (3-1, 1-0 12-5A) totaled just 235 passing yards - a meager 78.3 yards per game - but in their 33-7 win over Shoemaker on Friday, let quarterback CJ Rodriguez air it out. The Harker Heights senior threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-20 passing without an interception.
Not only was Rodriguez efficient with his passing, he was an equal-opportunity quarterback. He completed passes to five different receivers, with Marquan Warren (6-66) and Greg Haynes (5-68, TD) being his favorites. He threw touchdown passes of 8 and 10 yards and had seven completions go for at least 10 yards.
Killeen runs into bye week
The Roos don't have a single feature back like a Jaquail Haskins - they have three.
Victor Scott and William Mathews combined for 219 of Killeen's 447 rushing yards in the Roos 58-12 win over Del Valle on Thursday in their nondistrict finale.
Scott finished with 119 and Mathews an even 100, giving the Roos (4-1) three 100-yard rushers this season - Naaman Young ran for 107 last week.
The Roos enter their bye week on the heals of back-to-back convincing wins and open their District 8-4A schedule with a critical game at Waco University, their first true away game this season.
Wolves unveil Wildcat
Channon Hall didn't have much time to implement the changes he wanted to do to Shoemaker's offense and defense, running Johnny Jefferson out of the Wildcat formation was one tweak he held on to until the start of District 12-5A.
Jefferson had 25 carries for 97 yards and was 1-of-5 passing for 12 yards in Shoemaker's loss to Harker Heights in the district opener.
The Grey Wolves used the formation sparingly in the first half but really committed to it in the second half, running it on all but 13 plays in the second half. Of Shoemaker's 186 yards of total offense, 122 came in the second half.
As good as Belton's defense was during nondistrict play, the unit struggled a bit against Copperas Cove.
It wasn't so much with the yardage, though Cove gained 397. It was the penalties.
Belton was penalized for being offside seven times. Cove declined one midway through the fourth quarter only for the Tigers to jump across the line of scrimmage three plays later.
On two separate occasions, Belton was called offside on back-to-back plays. Cove scored just a few plays after both instances. In all, the Tigers had 10 penalties for 68 yards.
Turnovers continue to plague Eagles
It seems every week it's the same ol' story with Ellison - turnovers prove costly. While the Eagles have experienced the first 0-4 start since its winless 2001 season, it's been the repeated mistakes that have been the key to their downfall.
In Friday's 56-7 loss to Bryan - the second near-50 point loss this season - Ellison committed a season-high six turnovers (four interceptions and two lost fumbles), two of which directly led to Vikings touchdowns over the final 4½ minutes of the first quarter for a 28-0 deficit. Through four games this season, the Eagles have turned the ball over 18 times.
By the Numbers
3 - Different 100-yard rushers Killeen has had this season. Victor Scott and William Mathews ran for 119 and 100, respectively, in the Roos' win over Del Valle on Thursday and Naaman Young became the first when he ran for 107 against Round Rock McNeil a week earlier.
157 - Total offense by Shoemaker running back Johnny Jefferson in the Grey Wolves' loss to Harker Heights. In addition to running for 97 yards, mostly out of the Wildcat formation, he threw a 12-yard completion and caught a 48-yard touchdown pass.
160 - Passing yards by Harker Heights senior quarterback CJ Rodriguez in the Knights' win over Shoemaker. Heights averaged less than 74 yards passing through their first three games.
17 - Points Copperas Cove scored off Belton's turnovers. The Dawgs got a 25-yard field goal off a first quarter fumble and rushing touchdowns from Orlando Thomas and Brandon Hamilton off two of Belton's three turnovers in the third quarter.
7 - Different Tigers who caught passes Friday against Copperas Cove. Belton entered Friday with two (Derick Bates and Levi Jordan) of the top 10 receivers in District 12-5A.
56 - Ellison's largest point differential this season (including a 52-0 loss to Cedar Park in Week 1) before a late fourth-quarter touchdown Friday against Bryan.
Copperas Cove (3-1, 1-0 12-5A) at Temple (1-3, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The Wildcats twice lost a lead in the fourth quarter in falling on the road to A&M Consolidated. If that defense struggles against Copperas Cove, Temple could be looking at an 0-2 district start.
Harker Heights (3-1, 1-0 12-5A) at Belton (3-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The Tigers are coming off their first loss of the season and will face a Harker Heights squad riding a three-game win streak and looking to make a statement in the district race.
A&M Consolidated (1-3, 1-0) at Ellison (0-4, 0-1), 7 p.m. Thursday -- The Eagles' District 12-5A road doesn't get any easier as the defending champion Tigers come to town. Despite both teams entering district play winless, Consolidated rallied to best visiting Temple last week 33-30.
Bryan (3-1, 1-0 12-5A) at Shoemaker (0-4, 0-1), Friday - The Vikings are coming off a lopsided 56-7 win over Ellison, scoring two defensive touchdowns on six takeaways. Despite losing to Harker Heights, the Grey Wolves' offense finally found a rhythm in the Wildcat formation but struggled to take advantage of its red-zone opportunities in the second half.
Alex Byington contributed to this report.