By Angel Verdejo and Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Take away his 21-yard miss in the closing minutes Friday, and Eli Kuhns once again showed why he's so valuable to Copperas Cove's 7-1 season.
Cove knocked off A&M Consolidated 23-21 in a matchup between District 12-5A's top two teams. The Dawgs (7-1, 5-0) now lead the Tigers (4-4, 4-1) by a game.
In the win, Cove's senior kicker made three field goals, including long ones (48 and 47 yards) with plenty of room had they been farther out. The miss was Kuhns' first of the year after making 12 straight.
Three of his kickoffs were touchbacks, while Consolidated's best starting field position on the rest was the 27-yard line. Two of his three punts dropped inside the Tiger 20, including a 42-yarder late in the third quarter that pinned A&M Consolidated at its 3 and nearly resulted in a safety.
"For me, he's money," Cove head coach Jack Welch said. "Those things happen …there was going to be a miss sometime during the year. We got rid of it - it's over."
Roos drop second straight, at No. 10 Stephenville
The Roos totaled 375 yards on offense, including 332 on the ground, against the Yellow Jackets' District 8-4A-leading defense. Killeen's own defense held the district's most prolific offense to just 269 yards. But 10th-ranked Stephenville rallied, scoring 16 unanswered points in the final four minutes to hand Killeen its second straight loss.
Naaman Young and Victor Scott combined for 278 rushing yards and quarterback Garrett Gaskamp ran for two touchdowns, but the Roos couldn't move the ball beyond its own 20-yard line late in the game, setting off Stephenville's unlikely comeback.
Jonathan Hilder intercepted Stephenville quarterback Tyler Jones at the Killeen 4 with two minutes left but the Roos couldn't pick up a first down. On fourth down at their own 11, the Roos opted to give the Yellow Jackets a safety rather than risk a blocked punt in the end zone. That cut the Roos' lead to three with a minute left, but Preston Brown returned the ensuing free kick 60 yards for Stephenville's game-winning touchdown.
Belton looking for mojo again
After a win over Waco Midway, the Belton Tigers struggled to get themselves back together.
They lost to Copperas Cove, struggled against winless Shoemaker and then completely dropped the ball in a 23-8 loss to rival Temple.
Against Ellison, the Tigers wanted to unleash some frustration. They did that, piling up 456 yards of offense - including 262 rushing yards - despite a slow start. They must now carry that momentum into Friday, when they face Bryan for a possible playoff spot.
Knights already in playoff mode
In seeking its first postseason appearance since 2006, Harker Heights has already embraced the win-or-else playoff mindset.
Friday, that new attitude carried the talented Knights (5-3, 3-2 12-5A) past usual playoff contender Bryan and in the process to their best season win total since 2005, the last and only other time they beat the Vikings.
In a three-way tie for the third and fourth 12-5A playoff spots with Belton and Temple - which both have tie-breaking wins over Heights - the Knights must win one of its final two games against A&M Consolidated and Copperas Cove and hope for help if they're going to break the playoff drought.
Ellison runs, runs some more
The Eagles had problems passing the ball against Belton. But they did find success behind Isiah Cowan and the ground game.
Cowan had 22 carries for 125 yards and toted the ball on eight of the Eagles' first nine plays. However, he left early in the third quarter with a lower leg injury.
Kaimen Roberson came in and took over, carrying the ball 10 times for 47 yards, but was stopped twice on fourth down as the Eagles failed to finish off drives.
Wolves turn away opportunity
The new-look Grey Wolves found an old way to lose their 30th straight game.
Shoemaker turned the ball over five times, including two in back-to-back drives to end the game, and lost a back-and-forth affair to Temple 21-18 on Thursday night.
Johnny Jefferson capped an impressive 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Grey Wolves an 18-13 lead with 6:16 left. Then, Otis Hudson recovered a Temple fumble at the Shoemaker 4-yard line.
Jefferson, though, lost a fumble at his own 14, setting up Temple quarterback Zach Allen's 19-yard go-ahead touchdown run with 3:20 left.
Shoemaker quarterback Ziere Banner was then picked off and Temple was able to run out the clock for its third straight win.
The Grey Wolves' losing streak now matches Copperas Cove's losing streak from 1977-80 as the area's longest.
By the Numbers
7 - Passing yards by Ellison in its loss to Belton on Friday.
37 - Rushes Ellison and Belton each had Friday in the Tigers' 37-0 win.
3 - Consecutive losses Copperas Cove had against A&M Consolidated before Friday's 23-21 win. The Bulldawgs last beat the Tigers in 2005 on the way to a 13-1 season.
11 - Seconds it took Bryan to swing a 17-0 deficit into a three-point game against Harker Heights.
16 - Consecutive points scored by Stephenville in the final four minutes, including a safety, to rally from a 33-21 deficit and beat Killeen at home on Friday night.
9 - Total turnovers by Shoemaker and Temple in the Wildcats' win over the Grey Wolves on Thursday night.
Belton (6-2, 3-2 12-5A) at Bryan (5-3, 2-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday - Belton is a win away from securing its third straight playoff berth. However, the Vikings are looking to make the playoffs for the sixth time in the last eight years and must defeat the Tigers to do it.
Shoemaker (0-8, 0-5 12-5A) at Copperas Cove (7-1, 5-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The Grey Wolves are getting ever so close to snapping their 30-game losing streak, but it may take a big performance from running back Johnny Jefferson to make that happen against Cove.
Harker Heights (5-3, 3-2 12-5A) at A&M Consolidated (4-4, 4-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday - Still needing to win one of their final two games to make the playoffs, things don't get any easier for the Knights, who must take on a Consolidated squad that's reeling following its first district loss to Cove.
Temple (4-4, 3-2 12-5A) at Ellison (0-8, 0-5), 7 p.m. Thursday - Long since out of the playoff hunt, the beleaguered Eagles are just seeking something positive to hold on to in trying to avoid its first winless season since 2001. In a short week, they face the upstart Wildcats, who have won three straight.
San Angelo Lake View (0-8, 0-3 8-4A) at Killeen (5-3, 1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The Roos are coming off a heartbreaking loss to 10th-ranked Stephenville. Lake View, on the other hand, has dropped four straight, including a 71-0 loss to Waco on Friday night.
Alex Byington and Nick Talbot contributed to this report.