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Playoffs Blitz Rewind: Killeen offensive line earns nod at Thanksgiving table

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Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011 6:12 am

Daniel McCants can be especially thankful for the Roos' offensive line this Thanksgiving.

The Killeen sophomore running back ran for 183 yards and a touchdown on six carries in the Roos' 60-25 win over Fort Worth Arlington Heights in a Division I-4A area playoff game Friday at Waxahachie.

The Roos' offensive line opened the door for that standout performance and McCants' opportunity to even be playing. Two weeks ago, McCants was called up from the JV for the playoffs to add depth to a backfield which was hard-hit by nagging injuries. In two playoff games, McCants has rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and is the Roos' fifth different back to run for more than 100 yards in a game this season.

"The offensive linemen did a great job; the coaching staff gave me a chance to run the ball," McCants said. "I wouldn't have been a spark without the O-line so I just trust the O-line when I run the ball."

While McCants was helping the JV to a 10-0 season and its second straight District 8-4A championship, the Roos ran for 2,806 yards and 39 touchdowns in the regular season behind their experienced offensive line to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Killeen (8-4) is averaging almost 366 rushing yards a game in the playoffs and faces Wichita Falls Rider (9-3) in a regional quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Mansfield's Vernon Newsom Stadium.

Junior Naaman Young, one of the Roos' three feature backs that's been dealing with a late-season injury, ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

"They're all good backs and we've got a good offensive line in front of them, don't overlook that," Killeen coach Sam Jones said. "You've got to have an offensive line to open up holes and … the backs are doing their job once they get sight of the hole."

Copperas Cove went into its area-round playoff game Friday with a rushing offense averaging 325.5 yards per game. The Bulldawgs featured two 1,000-yards rushers in Brandon Hamilton and Orlando Thomas.

But against Rowlett, Cove struggled moving on the ball on the ground. Rowlett held the Dawgs to a season-low 126 yards rushing. It was just the second time all year Cove ran for less than 200 yards (the Dawgs had 172 in their 59-9 win over Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon).

Cove didn't abandon the run, the offense just didn't have the ball. The Dawgs only ran 18 plays in the second half.

Thomas did throw for a season-best 210 yards to go with two touchdown passes, but the senior was also intercepted twice.

Lampasas didn't have a problem moving the ball Friday in its 3A regional playoff loss to La Vernia.

But it still only managed to score 21 points. And the reason was simple — execution after moving deep into La Vernia terrritory.

On its opening drive of the game, Lampasas (10-2) drove down to the Bears' 35-yard line, only to see Justin Maldonado fumble. The Badgers scored on their next two drives and seemed to correct the problem.

They didn't. On the fourth possession, Lampasas again drove down the field, but the drive stalled at the 15 and the Badgers came away without a single point despite a 10-play, 65-yard drive. On its last possession of the first half, the Badgers again strung together 10 plays and went 31 yards to midfield, but again fumbled.

And after a long touchdown drive to start the second half and cut the La Vernia (7-5) lead to 22-21, the offense stalled altogether, only running seven more plays in two possessions, including an interception.

193 — Rushing yards Garland Rowlett running back Jalen Rhodes had in the Eagles' 48-38 win over Copperas Cove in the Division II-5A area round playoff Friday. The junior had one more carry than Cove did as an entire team, but 67 more yards.

10 — Runs of 20 or more yards by Killeen ballcarriers in the Roos' area playoff win over Fort Worth Arlington Heights, including three 61-yarders.

0 — Passing yards for Lampasas. It's normally not a problem for the Badgers to not get a single passing yard, but Friday it hurt as the Badgers needed to pick up yards through the air at key times and could not haul in a pass.

Killeen (8-4) vs. Wichita Falls Rider (9-3), 2 p.m. Saturday, at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield — The Roos have outscored their first two playoff opponents 96-28 and are making their longest postseason run since the 2008 team — similarly built with young playmakers and an experienced defense and offensive line — reached the 4A state quarterfinals.

Rider, led by dual-threat quarterback J.T. Barrett, has won five straight games, including its 37-10 area-round win over El Paso Chapin. Barrett, who's being recruited by Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas, has thrown for 1,461 yards and 12 touchdowns and is the Riders' leading rusher (1,188 yards, 7 TDs).

Nick Talbot contributed to this report.

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