By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
LEANDER – The "War of the Wolves" wasn't much of a war as the Cedar Park Timberwolves improved to 3-0 on the season and 2-0 against District 13-5A after a dominating 36-7 win against the Shoemaker Grey Wolves Friday night at Bible Memorial Stadium.
Cedar Park quarterback Michael Cochran threw for only 62 yards, but completed 10 of 11 passes for two touchdowns while running back Dedrick McKnight carved up the Grey Wolves' defense for 109 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. The Timberwolves also got help from their defense with a blocked punt which resulted in a safety, two forced fumbles and an interception on the night.
"We kind of beat ourselves with the blocked punt and the bad snaps," said Shoemaker coach Ken Gray, whose Grey Wolves fall to 1-3 on the season. "But overall, I thought the kids gave us a lot of effort, but we can't shoot ourselves in the foot like that."
Shoemaker got the opportunity to score first by receiving the opening kickoff, but Cedar Park forced a three-and-out. Quarterback/punter Andre Smith got the snap on the ensuing fourth-down play, but the Timberwolves' Matt Knicky, who registered five tackles, shot up the middle and swatted Smith's punt attempt about 20 yards and out of the end zone giving Cedar Park a 2-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
Cedar Park quickly stretched the score to 9-0, after Shoemaker's free kick, on Cochran's first touchdown throw to Dokata Warren with 7:30 left in the first quarter.
Although Shoemaker was down, the Grey Wolves bounced back with two minutes left in the first with a 16-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Smith to pull the Grey Wolves within two points, 9-7, with less than eight minutes left in the first half.
Smith's second quarter touchdown was the last time Shoemaker sniffed the end zone. Cedar Park running back Hunter Dixon scored just minutes later to make it 15-7 after Jamie Knight returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Shoemaker 37-yard line.
The Grey Wolves got another chance in the final minutes of the first half, but a bad handoff exchange between Smith and running back Dion Demers (12 carries for 94 yards) and a Cedar Park recovery quickly turned into another touchdown pass for Cochran, who hit Dixon for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 22-7 heading into halftime.
"At one point it was 9-7 and we were moving the ball and then we fumble and boom they are on it," Gray said. "You can't give them turnovers like that because they will capitalize on those."
The second half wasn't much better for Shoemaker as Cedar Park took its opening possession 66 yards in seven plays for another touchdown and 29-7 lead. The Timberwolves forced the Grey Wolves into another three-and-out, but Smith never got the chance to get off the punt because of a high snap. Smith pounced on the loose ball, but Shoemaker turned the ball over to the Timberwolves at its own 11. On the next play, McKnight waltzed into the end zone for a 36-7 lead.
Gray said the Grey Wolves couldn't overcome the turnovers.
"They were able to score every time they got it and we didn't," Gray said. "And that's something we have to work on. We've got to do a better job of scoring when we have the ball."
Smith completed 65 percent of this passes (17-of-26), but for only 54 yards on the night.
Gray said the offensive line has to protect Smith better.
"He's still a special player, but we have to do a better job of protecting him," Gray said. "If we can protect him, he's going to make something good happen."
Although Shoemaker has dropped its last two games after winning its opener, Gray said next week and the coming weeks are the most important for his team.
"Next week they (the district games) start counting," Gray said. "We know that and our kids know that and we are going to go to work."
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.