By Evan Ren
Killeen Daily Herald
CEDAR PARK It was just the kind of physical football that Ellison wants to play.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were on the receiving end of it in a 23-8 loss at Cedar Park on Friday.
Rupert Edwards rushed for 118 yards and two scores to lead Cedar Park (1-2), which pounded out 204 yards rushing en route to the win.
"That's what I was (worried) about coming in," Ellison coach Bret Boyd said. "Our kids were in position most of the time and running to the football, but Cedar Park's offensive line does a great job."
For 4A Ellison (0-3), it was the Eagles' fourth straight loss dating back to last season, and the third consecutive loss to a 5A school this year.
Cedar Park, which drained 17 minutes from the first-half play clock, finished with 290 total yards while limiting the Eagles to just eight offensive possessions.
"They're a solid football team," Boyd said. "I was impressed with their running game and have been all week long.
"I really felt we could get enough people to the ball, but we just didn't put them in enough long-yardage situations."
And for Ellison, that problem started from Cedar Park's opening drive an impressive 68-yard march to the Eagle 19, where Wesley Wagener connected with a 36-yard field goal with 7:43 left in the first quarter.
The Timberwolves went to work again on their next possession, pushing 94 yards on nine plays to score on an 8-yard run by Edwards with 24 seconds remaining in the first.
A 56-yard pass from Korey Washington to Tim Emmons was the key play of the drive, giving the T-Wolves a first-and-10 at the Eagle 16.
"We knew by watching film that they couldn't cover that pass," Cedar Park coach Mark Weaver said. "We knew if we executed it properly, they couldn't get there in cover two."
Leading 9-0 after Wagener's extra-point was blocked, the Wolves struck again late in the second quarter when Edwards found the end zone from 4 yards out.
The drive began when Ellison's Cedaz Gibbs fumbled at the Cedar Park 40 on the tail end of a 49-yard run. The loose ball was scooped up by Zac Landry and returned to the Ellison 11, only to be brought back to the Eagle 47 because of an illegal block. It took the T-Wolves 10 plays to cover the distance, giving them a 16-0 lead with 4:46 left in the half.
"We didn't start the game tonight like we normally do," Boyd said. "I don't know if it was the traveling or what, but we came out here a little wide-eyed and didn't calm down for about a quarter.
"Then in the second half, we woke up and played pretty well."
After receiving a half-time lecture, Ellison broke from the gate with a 10-play 65-yard scoring drive, finished by a 2-yard touchdown run by Gibbs.
A 2-point conversion pass from Beau Boyd to Travis Tucker cut the lead in half, giving the Eagles their first taste of momentum.
A 34-yard field goal attempt by Wagener was blocked on the T-Wolves' next possession, opening the door for Ellison to tie the score. But when faced with a third-and-16 at their own 32 six plays later, a fumble by Beau Boyd proved disastrous.
Recovered by Shawn Graham on the Ellison 34, the Eagles' second turnover led to a Cedar Park touchdown when Washington found the end zone on a 17-yard keeper with 10 minutes left in the game.
Ellison had two opportunities to score down the stretch, only to be stopped on downs twice. First, at the Cedar Park 15 with 6:21 remaining when Gibbs was stopped on fourth-and-two. Three minutes later, the Eagles came up short once again, losing the ball on downs at the T-Wolf 18 with an 8-yard pass by Boyd to Shawn Woods on fourth-and-10.
"We dug ourselves a hole and put pressure on ourselves to make plays," Bret Boyd said. "We had a turnover here and there and it just sort of snowballed on us."
Contact Evan Ren at firstname.lastname@example.org