By Monty Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs continued to demonstrate that they are not a one-man football team as four different Dawgs found the end zone in the first half of their 36-16 victory over the Hewitt Midway Panthers on Friday night at Bulldawg Stadium.
Jerrard Millsap began the scoring onslaught as he took Copperas Cove's first play from scrimmage for a 63-yard touchdown run on a lateral from Robert Griffin.
After stopping Midway on its next possession, the Dawgs promptly drove 54 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a highlight-reel play from Griffin. As Griffin was about to be sacked by a swarm of Panthers, he managed to escape them all and connected with Brian Jones on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Copperas Cove (7-1 overall, 3-0 District 16-4A) had a big play defensively on the next Panther possession.
Defensive lineman Craig Wood sniffed out a Midway screen pass to Justin Cavasos, intercepted it at the Midway 14-yard line and returned it seven yards.
Griffin continued to impress as he pitched the ball to Troy Vital just as he was getting hit and Vital waltzed into the end zone for a 21-0 Cove lead in the first quarter.
Once again, the Midway offense went three-and-out, but a 50-yard punt helped the Panthers gain a little in field position as the Bulldawgs began the next drive on their own 37-yard line.
The Copperas Cove offense drove to the Midway 30-yard line on just five plays.
Billy Abreu then added his name to the scoresheet with 8:43 remaining in the first half after he sprinted through the middle of the Midway line and outraced the secondary to the end zone.
That is when Copperas Cove had a letdown, going five consecutive possessions without a first down.
"Our kids saw that we were up 28-0 and kind of let down," Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch said. "Anytime that you play a Midway or any other team in our district, you cannot let down. You must stay with the game plan for the entire game."
Midway (3-5, 1-2) began to build momentum during the same stretch of the contest. Jared Ray began to get in sync with his receivers and after a 6-yard pass to Matt Davis moved the Panthers to their own 32-yard line, it appeared that they were finding their momentum.
Justin Cavasos broke through the middle for what appeared to be another Midway first down but Cove's Michael Armstrong ended any threat as he hit and corralled Cavazo's fumble and returned it seven yards to the Midway 36.
Once again the Midway defense stepped up and stopped Cove on three straight plays. Seven plays later, Justin Shaughnessy hit a 43-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 28-3 at the intermission.
Neither team could mount any offense in the third quarter with both sides equally struggling to move the ball. The first break of the second half occurred as Abreu was striding through the right side of the Midway defense and Patrick Murphy stripped the ball out of his hands for a Cove turnover.
Midway used little time getting into the end zone as Ray and Todd Glaesmann capped an 8-play, 50-yard drive by combining on a 6-yard touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter.
Copperas Cove – more importantly Jerrard Millsap – put an end to any Midway comeback aspirations as the Bulldawgs took the ensuing kickoff and drove 93 yards encompassing the first 6:35 of the final period to salt the game away. Millsap carried the ball eight times on the drive for 45 yards. He finished the night with 137 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Griffin put the nail in the Panthers' coffin as he galloped into the end zone from 5 yards out on a fourth-and-1 play. Griffin then added the 2-point conversion by running up the middle.
Midway added a touchdown with 44 seconds left in the game when Ray hit Matt Davis with a fade pattern from 18 yards out. The Panthers' 2-point conversion failed, resulting in the final score.
Ray, the leading passer in District 16-4A, finished the evening with 127 yards passing on 12-of-25 passing and two touchdowns, while throwing one interception.
"Overall, I was pleased with how we competed," Welch said. "Even when we were ahead, we gashed them on big plays. Midway played well but the big plays hurt them, just like against Waco. I have a lot of respect for their coaches and team. I thought they played well."
Copperas Cove resumes play Thursday night as the Dawgs travel to Killeen to battle the Roos at Leo Buckley Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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