TEMPLE — Ellison entered its tangle against Temple with one win in six tries, though three of its losses in District 12-6A were by an average of four points.
The Eagles provided plenty of examples during the early stages Friday night as to why their overall tally carried a bit of deceptiveness to it, taking a quick eight-point lead and holding the Wildcats to 10 first-half points.
However, Temple produced its own evidence toward how it has perched itself at the top of the league standings, wading through a slow start and pulling away for a rather decisive 39-15 victory at Wildcat Stadium.
It was indeed an inauspicious beginning for the Wildcats for a second straight week. But unlike last Thursday when Temple (6-1, 4-0) fell behind Harker Heights 20-0 and trailed 23-18 at halftime before winning by two, the Wildcats managed to take a 10-8 advantage into the break against the Eagles (1-6, 0-4) despite committing three turnovers and never quite finding a rhythm on offense.
They poured it on out of the intermission, outscoring Ellison 29-7 and ultimately cruising to their fourth straight victory to remain tied for first with Shoemaker.
“It took us a little while on offense but I don’t think it was because we were sluggish on offense. I mean they have 6-foot-5 defensive linemen. We knew going in we were going to have to stay the course,” Temple head coach Scott Stewart said. “They are a (1-6) football team but that’s the best (1-6) football team I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Temple running back Samari Howard had a 35-yard touchdown run among his 127 yards rushing and added a 21-yard TD reception from quarterback Humberto Arizmendi, who hit his groove in the second half and finished 18-of-30 for 282 yards and three scores.
Two of the passing TDs went to Mikal Harrison-Pilot — a 55-yard catch-and-run on which the sophomore flashed his elusiveness, and an 8-yarder.
Temple had its first drive halted just two plays into the game’s opening series when Ellison’s Jaeshawn Johnson knocked the ball loose from receiver Luke Allen and recovered the fumble.
Three plays later, Trejon hauled in a 24-yard TD pass from quarterback Faleifa Mauga. Damashja Harris converted a 2-point run for the Eagles’ early 8-0 advantage 2 minutes in.
Temple’s defense was stingy from then on, yielding just 128 yards during the initial 24 minutes and 246 overall.
The Wildcats found their form late in the opening period and got a boost from punter Aaron Wagaman to get on the board.
Wagaman’s 7-yard pickup on a fake punt kept Temple’s drive afloat, and the trickery paved the way for Arizmendi’s 41-yard completion to Allen down to the Eagles 5-yard line and eventually Jalen Robinson’s 1-yard TD plunge on fourth down. Wagaman’s PAT left the Wildcats trailing 8-7 at 2:01 of the first, and the do-it-all kicker made a 32-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to put Temple ahead 10-8.
“I saw the crease, just made it happen and started the momentum for us,” Wagaman said of his second successful fake punt this season.
Temple was scheduled to take on rival Belton next week but late Friday afternoon Belton ISD announced the Tigers were going to have to postpone the encounter because of positive COVID-19 cases and subsequent contact tracing and quarantines. Belton also postponed Friday night’s game against Harker Heights. Temple ISD communicated late Friday that 12-6A administrators will meet next week to come to an official decision.
“I was focused on Killeen Ellison. Everybody keeps asking me what’s happening next week. I don’t know,” Stewart said. “I’m getting ready to play Belton. Nothing else has been decided. I’m not going to sit around and wait. We’re going to show up tomorrow, work the kids out, watch film and as coaches, we’re going to grind on Belton. If someone tells me something different, we’ll do something different. But, I don’t know. All the announcements that are coming out from over there … I don’t know. I’m going to be here next Friday night at 7:30 until somebody tells me otherwise.”
TEMPLE 39, ELLISON 15
Ellison 8 0 0 0 — 15
Temple 7 3 15 14 — 39
Ell — Trejon Spiller 24 pass from Faleifa Mauga (Damashja Harris run)
Tem — Wagaman 32 field goal
Tem — Samari Howard 35 run (Wagaman pass from Howard)
Tem — Mikal Harrison-Pilot 45 pass from Humberto Arizmendi (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Harrison-Pilot 8 pass from Arizmendi (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Howard 21 pass from Arizmendi (Wagaman kick)
Ell — Zaim Munoz 45 pass from Mauga (David Avalos kick)
First downs 15 19
Rushes-yards 36-145 32-171
Passing yards 102 282
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-17-0 18-30-1
Punts-average 7-30 2-37.5
Fumbles-lost 1-1 7-2
Penalties-yards 9-61 11-77
RUSHING — Ellison, Ezekiel Sheridan 13-41, Mauga 10-35, Harris 9-26, Contavieon Johnson 3-42, Khamari McClain 1-1. Temple, Howard 19-127, Arizmendi 8-38, Robinson 2-8, Wagaman 1-7, Bryce Langrum 1-0, Xander Kelm 1-(minus 9).
PASSING — Ellison, Mauga 8-16-0-102, Amare Johnson 0-1-0-0. Temple, Arizmendi 18-30-1-282.
RECEIVING — Ellison, Spiller 5-44, Traelen Williams 2-13, Munoz 1-45. Temple, Harrison-Pilot 6-99, Allen 5-74, AJ McDuffy 4-42, Tr’Darius Taylor 2-46, Howard 1-21.
Harker Heights 1-2
Copperas Cove 0-3
- Copperas Cove at Killeen, ppd.
- Harker Heights at Belton, ppd.
- Shoemaker 42, Bryan 30 (Thurs.)
- Temple 39, Ellison 15