COPPERAS COVE — The Jason Hammett era in Copperas Cove got off to a rocky start Friday night as the Waxahachie Indians gashed the Bulldawgs on the ground.
Waxahachie churned out 222 yards rushing, led by running back Shawn Cherry, en route to a 34-7 victory over Copperas Cove.
Cherry set the tone in the second half, scoring a 55-yard rushing touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The score pushed Waxahachie’s lead to 19-7.
Cherry was efficient, rushing for 97 yards in the first half and 102 in the second.
Hammett said Cherry's long runs throughout the game were due to some misalignment on the defensive side of the ball.
"When he got running down, we didn't have that gap fit correctly — that's what's going to happen," Hammett said. "Again, we're not where we're going to be, and defense did a great job of bending, not breaking kind of concept."
Overall, Hammett thought the defensive line played well and gave the players up front praise.
"They were in the backfield a lot," Hammett said. "A lot of pressure on the quarterback, a lot of stops."
The Bulldawgs finished with two sacks on defense and chased Waxahachie's quarterbacks out of the pocket multiple times.
In total, the Indians scored three touchdowns in the second half. Cherry added a 13-yard rush in the third quarter, and quarterback Casey Kelly hit Brandon Hawkins Jr. on a 32-yard strike in the fourth to solidify the final score.
Copperas Cove had a difficult time moving the ball, seeing many drives stymied by false start and delay of game penalties.
"That shows the issues we're having," Hammett said. "Again, they're coachable issues."
Hammett said his team will work on eliminating the "self-inflicted wounds" as the players prepare for their upcoming games. Hammett also took the blame for the loss.
The Bulldawgs had a couple of promising drives in the second half. One drive ended in the third quarter at the Waxahachie 16-yard line after a fumble by Brodie Sanders.
Quarterback Shane Richey's screen pass to running back Brandon Ortega for 20 yards kick-started the drive.
Sophomore running back Warren Fleming followed it up with a 32-yard rush to the 13-yard line.
The other promising drive happened in the fourth quarter. The Bulldawgs drove from their 25-yard line to the Waxahachie 13-yard line before turning it over on downs.
Richey highlighted the drive with a 37-yard rush that would have been more, had it not been for a block in the back penalty against the Bulldawgs.
On the final drive of the first half, the Bulldawgs sustained an 11-play, 71-yard drive to get on the board.
Down 12-0, Richey came into the game and led the Bulldawgs down the field. Cove amassed 42 yards rushing on the drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown from Richey. At halftime, the score was 12-7 in favor of Waxahachie.
Richey kept the drive alive with a 14-yard pass to Qiejon Donnell on fourth-and-13.
"You know, we've got some great players on our team — great group of seniors," Hammett said. "You know, for us, that 11-play drive is an example offensively about potential. But, you know, at some point it's got to be more than about potential; it's about reality."
Waxahachie started the scoring with a 33-yard field goal from Clyde Melick to give the Indians a 3-0 lead with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter. On the next drive, Melick booted it home from 39 yards out to extend the lead to 6-0.
After a couple punts in the first half, the Waxahachie defense scored the first touchdown of the game, a fumble recovery by Xavien Thompson in the end zone after a fumble by Cove quarterback Russel Cochran.
For the Bulldawgs, Brandon Ortega finished with 10 carries for 52 yards, Fleming had 48 yards on four carries, Josiah Key ended with 13 carries for 40 yards and Brodie Sanders had 9 yards rushing.
Richey and Cochran had four completions each. Richey finished with 40 yards passing, and Cochran had 30 yards passing.
On the receiving end, Ortega had two catches for 27 yards. Wyatt Nelson also had two catches for 8 yards. Donnell, Sanders, Craig Brown and Tyrez Reynolds had one catch each for 14, 13, 2 and 8 yards, respectively.
"These kids, you know, I told them I was proud of them before the game," Hammett said. "And I'm still proud of them. We've been through a lot. We're not done with our mission ... you know, we're just starting."
Copperas Cove (0-1) takes to the road next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup with Georgetown. The Indians (1-0) head back home to face Arlington Lamar.
"We're going to play Georgetown next week, but this week's going to have to be about the Bulldawgs," Hammett said. "How do we get better and take care of ourselves? If we do that, we'll get ourselves in position where we want to be."
WAXAHACHIE 34, COPPERAS COVE 7
Waxahachie 6 6 15 7—34
Copperas Cove 0 7 0 0— 7
Wax—FG Melick 33, 5:34.
Wax—FG Melick 39, 0:44.
Wax—Thompson fumble recovery in end zone (2-pt. failed), 3:40.
Cove—Richey 7 run (Newberry kick), 0:13.
Wax—Cherry 55 run (Melick kick), 11:05.
Wax—Cherry 13 run (Hartsfield run)
Wax—Hawkins Jr. 32 pass from Kelly (Melick kick), 8:59.
First Downs 10 14
Rushes-Yards 28-222 47-188
Passing Yards 148 70
Comp-Att-Int 6-16-0 8-22-0
Punts-Avg. 4-41.8 4-29.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-51 12-75
RUSHING—Waxahachie, Cherry 20-199, Wofford 3-28, Hartsfield 3-7, Lewis 1-0, Kelly 1-(minus 12). Copperas Cove, Richey 7-61, Ortega 10-52, Fleming 4-48, Key 13-40, Sanders 4-9, Brown 1-1, Cochran 7-(minus 3).
PASSING—Waxahachie, Kelly 5-13-0-144, Hartsfield 1-3-0-4. Copperas Cove, Cochran 4-14-0-30, Richey 4-8-0-40.
RECEIVING—Waxahachie, Hawkins Jr. 3-115, Cherry 1-18, Basham 1-11, Lankford 1-4. Copperas Cove, Ortega 2-27, Nelson 2-8, Donnell 1-14, Sanders 1-13, Reynolds 1-6, Brown 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Waxahachie, Melick, 28.
DISTRICT 12-6A SCORES
- Shoemaker 61, San Angelo Central 35
- Bryan 31, Waller 20
- Georgetown 36, Belton 27
- Killeen 42, Georgetown East View 23
- Liberty Hill 44, Ellison 25
- Smithson Valley 45, Harker Heights 27
- Temple 40, Longview 13
- Waxahachie 34, Copperas Cove 7