Bulldawgs devour Eagles 39-14
By TJ MAXWELL
It was only fitting that the record holder for most rushing touchdowns in a single game and single season was on hand to watch the Copperas Cove rushers combine more than 300 yards and four touchdowns on their way to a 39-14 win over the Ellison Eagles Friday at Bulldawg Stadium.
Former Copperas Cove running back Vontez Duff and was on hand to serve as an honorary captain.
The Bulldawg defense also pitched a first-half shutout in front of the high school running back, turned college and pro cornerback.
Duff transitioned to cornerback in college at Notre Dame and continued his career as a cornerback in the NFL for the Houston Texans.
Copperas Cove running back LeDarian Johnson played inspired ball, knowing Duff was watching. The senior rushed for 163 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns on the night to lead the Bulldawgs' 320-yard performance in the ground game.
“It was a great inspiration,” said Johnson. “I like seeing players who have played here that have made it big and did a lot of stuff to contribute to our program. It was a great experience.”
The Bulldawgs more than tripled the Eagles offensive output with 645 yards to 192, mainly due to aggressive defense led by senior Michael Sumrall who wracked up 9.5 tackles, 3.5 for losses.
“Sumrall played real well at a couple different positions,” said Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch. “He's doing what he's got to do to help this ball club. It shows an unselfishness on his part to do what we need him to do and move around. Jace Leimbach is an unsung hero. Jace and Michael both, at that outside linebacker, did a fantastic job.”
Sumrall also had a huge safety in the third quarter that pushed the Cove lead to 32-0 with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
“All that was going through my mind was see ball, go get ball,” said Sumrall about the play. “I was thinking I've got to go get it.”
Sumrall and the Bulldawg defense held the Eagles to just 48 total yards of offense and forced six punts in the first half.
“This week, we were focusing on technique,” said Sumrall. “Defensive lineman-wise, we needed to defeat the man in front of us, the linebackers needed to fill in the gaps and the secondary, make sure we work the perfect technique. We were also focusing on being aggressive in defeating the blocks.”
That defense set up the Cove offense in good positions and Manny Harris from the quarterback position and Johnson from the running back position took full advantage.
“It gives us a lot of breathing room,” said Johnson. “I like to see the defense get stops and give us good ball placement, then we know we're going to get out there and score.”
Johnson got the Bulldawg offense out to a quick start with a 44-yard scamper to paydirt on a two-play, 52-yard drive that lasted just 18 seconds for the only score of the first period.
“It was a good play,” said Johnson. “It was a wide open hole and I just had to break one arm tackle and score.”
Johnson followed that score with another 20-yard blast to the end zone with 10:28 left in the first half to cap a three-play, 44-yard drive that spanned 48 seconds.
The Bulldawgs put together a sustained drive on their next possession after shutting down the Eagles once again.
A seven-play, 70-yard drive culminated in a 13-yard dive from fullback Jaylen Waters to give the Bulldawgs a 22-0 lead.
Cove capped off a 22-point quarter with a perfect throw and catch from Manny Harris to Derris Prater for a 43-yard touchdown and a commanding 30-0 lead after the two-point conversion run by Jaylen Waters.
“It was clicking,” said Welch about his team's second-quarter production. “I think that was the game. In the first quarter, we were feeling each other out. In the second quarter, we were on a roll.”
The Eagles took advantage of two of the few defensive mistakes for the Bulldawgs and turned them both into touchdowns in the third quarter.
Ellison junior wide receiver Christian Jackson found an open spot in the defense for a 32-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Carl Robinson III.
Jackson again was left wide open and Robinson found him for an 81-yard touchdown.
Copperas Cove backup quarterback Michael Hays iced the game for the Bulldawgs when he sliced through the Eagle defense for a 12-yard keeper on an option play to give the Bulldawgs a 39-14 advantage.
Harris was 19 for 34 on the night passing for 263 yards and the touchdown pass to Prater, who was 6 for 36 for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson had 12 carries for 163 yards a two touchdowns to led the Cove backs. Trent Canion added 100 yards on 18 carries, Waters had six runs for 29 yards a a score and Hays had three runs for 21 yards and a score.
Sumrall led all Cove tacklers with 9.5 (3.5 for losses), followed by D'Mani Peapealalo with 6.5 tackles and two sacks.
Jackson led the Ellison receivers with five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson passed for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 11 of 22 passing. Brandon Johnson led the Eagles running backs with 15 carries for 42 yards.
Anthony Lajarius led the Eagle defenders with nine tackles, including one for a loss.
JV Gold 41, Ellison 8
The JV Gold moved to 5-2, 2-1 on the season with their 41-8 win over Ellison. Copperas Cove jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. Running backs Ezekial Jordan, Jaylon Hannah, Lane Robison, Najee Etheridge, and quarterback Cain Garner lead the way on the ground. Defensive backs Tyson Curry, Blair Frasier, and Marcus McCrea lead the defense along with inebacker Austin Rice and defensive lineman Antoine Smith and Keifer Dononvon.
“Our special teams were also outstanding tonight,” said JV Gold head coach Vance McAnally. “I am proud of our effort and our bouncing back from a tough defeat last week. The defense was outstanding all night and offensively we never punted.
The JV Blue squad defeated Ellison 27-20.