By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
They got their first lead before their first possession, scored the first eight times they touched the ball, punted for the first time nearly eight and a half minutes into the second half and as a result, the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs are the first District 13-5A team to clinch a playoff spot.
The Bulldawgs scored on special teams, defense and plenty on offense in defeating Shoemaker 56-21 on a rainy Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium.
"We took it to them from the very start, got the blocked punt and went from there," Cove head coach Jack Welch said. "Our offense dominated their defense."
Cove quarterback Brent Garner passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in leading the rout of the Grey Wolves that began, literally, from the outset of the game.
After an SHS three-and-out to open the contest, Cove's Andrew Good busted through the Grey Wolves' protection and blocked Shoemaker's first punt, allowing Joseph Leary to pounce on the loose ball in the end zone to give Cove a 7-0 lead before it even ran a play from scrimmage.
After Shoemaker's second three-and-out, the Bulldawgs took advantage of their first possession, churning out a 9-play, 72-yard drive in 4:29, Donald Buckram culminating the march with 3 of his 110 rushing yards on the first of two touchdown runs.
Cove didn't waste any time putting two more touchdowns on the board as Brent Garner floated a scoring pass 34 yards to Mike Rousell on the Bulldawgs' second play following SHS' third consecutive punt to begin the game.
The next play from scrimmage, Keith Smith's late pitch was behind Shoemaker's Chris Poullard allowing Cove's Jeremy McDonald to scoop up the loose ball at the SHS 18-yard line and walk in for the score to give Cove a 29-0 advantage with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter.
"We just came out a little timid, got in an early hole," Shoemaker head coach Ken Gray said. "We decided we could play with them later, but by that time we were already down too much."
The next SHS possession ended on a Smith interception as the junior overthrew a deep flag route where Cove safety Tim Atchison was waiting. Five plays later, Alphonso Powell hauled in Garner's 44-yard touchdown pass for a 36-0 lead one play into the second quarter.
Shoemaker got on the board when Poullard broke a 59-yard run up the right sideline for the first SHS touchdown, but the Bulldawgs answered with another methodical eight-play scoring drive, Garner doing the honors himself this time, charging in from 2 yards out for a 43-7 advantage.
Smith was victimized for his second interception the following play from scrimmage. The Shoemaker junior quarterback was hit as he threw and Cove linebacker Tim Roy snatched the wobbly pass at the Cove 47-yard line.
Buckram finished the ensuing seven-play drive with a 5-yard scoring run.
The Grey Wolves, keyed by Poullard's 50-yard scamper, found the end zone for the second time when Brian McKinley rushed 10 yards up the middle to paydirt, cutting the Shoemaker deficit to 50-15 at the half.
The Bulldawgs let off the accelerator in the second half, but not before a 63-yard march capped by Garner's 14-yard scoring strike to Anthony Scott.
Poullard, the lone bright spot to that point for Shoemaker, fumbled the Grey Wolves' next two possessions away, but the junior finished with 189 yards on 18 carries.
The game was called due to lightning following Smith's 8-yard touchdown scamper with 3:15 remaining.
"Playoff-wize it pretty much eliminates us," Gray said. "But we'll re-focus our goals and we'll be all right."
Contact Clay Fowler at email@example.com