Dawgs’s 23-point comeback earns final playoff spot

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

BELTON - A wild night of football landed the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs in the playoffs when things looked bleak to begin the night.
The Bulldawgs would not only have to beat the number two team in the district Belton on their home turf, the Dawgs would also need Harker Heights to knock off the team that beat them a week earlier in Killeen.
By the end of the night that’s exactly what happened, despite Cove trailing 35-14 to the Tigers with 1:17 left in the third quarter when Cove scored their  first of 23 unanswered points to escape Tiger Field with a 37-35 victory and earn the final spot in the playoffs after Harker Heights knocked off Killeen 25-24.
The best drive of night to that point for Cove of 11 plays resulted in a two-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jaylen Smith to senior wideout Floyd Connell
An onside kick by Cove senior Andy Riley-Clark was recovered by junior Kyle Stifflemire at the Cove 47-yard line.
Four plays later the Dawgs pulled within one score on a 31-yard pass from Smith to senior Bryce Ranes for the score and a 35-28 Belton lead.
The Dawgs defense then made their impact on the game when junior linebacker Jack Shumaker stripped Belton ball carrier Darren Rector and Connell fell on it at the Dawgs’ 36 with 8:59 remaining in the contest.
Five plays later the Dawgs score the potentially tying touchdown on a one-yard run by senior Dylan Taijeron but the blocked extra point left Cove trailing by one point, 35-34, with 7:00 left in the game.
Anther huge defensive stand by the Bulldawgs gave the offense back the ball with the opportunity for the win.
The Dawgs then embarked on a 14-play drive that chewed up 4:04 of the remaining 4:36 of game clock and Riley-Clark kicked the winning field goal from 20 yards out with 36 seconds remaining to clinch the win and their playoff spot against the Desoto Eagles Friday night in Desoto. 
The Dawgs finished with 452 yards of total offense on 63 plays, led by Smith’s 363-yard four-touchdown night.
Ranes finished with 156 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches to lead the Cove receivers and Connell added 154 yards and two more score on 12 grabs. Honts added three catches for 30 yards.
Taijeron led the Cove backs with 50 yards rushing and one touchdown on 12 carries and Edwards added 44 yards on seven carries.
Senior Brandon Russ led the Cove defense with 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) while Connell had one fumble recovery and one interception.

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