Bulldawgs earn first win 41-22 over Granbury Pirates
By TJ MAXWELL
GRANBURY – The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs put together all three phases of the game to earn their first victory of the year and the first win for first-year head football coach and athletic director Jason Hammett in their 41-22 win over the Granbury Pirates Friday night at Johnny Perkins Field in Granbury.
“We can learn from a win too,” Hammett said jokingly during his post-game interview. “We have learned from these last two losses, but it’s a heck of a lot better to learn from a win.”
Hammett liked a lot of what he saw from his squad, but also saw a lot of things to work on before opening up District 12-6A play at home next Friday against the Temple Wildcats.
“We have plenty of stuff to work on,” he said. “Defensively, one of their plays, we didn’t play very good all night. We’ve got to get better at that for sure.
“Offensively, we still have inconsistency in the run game. There was a lot of good stuff in the run game, but then we had some stuff that wasn’t that good. We’ve got to clean those things up.”
Copperas Cove compiled 471 yards of total offense and 22 first downs on 57 plays on their way to the win.
Leading 27-15 entering the second half, it didn’t take the Bulldawgs long to increase their lead as junior Tyrese Carter took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown after a fake reverse froze the Pirates’ defense long enough for Carter to find a seam.
The Bulldawgs’ defense then made a huge stop on 4th and 4 from the Bulldawgs’ five-yard line to keep the momentum on their side.
Cove attempted to add to their score with a 44-yard field goal attempt by junior Caleb Newberry but it was blocked by the Pirates to keep the score at 34-15 with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
The Pirates had a defensive stand of their own on 4th and 8 at the Pirates’ 14 and set up their only score of the second half. A 17-yard touchdown run by junior Elijah Riggio capped a nine-play, 87-yard drive to pull the Pirates within two scores, 34-22, with 6:41 left in the contest.
The Bulldawgs got that score back on the ensuing drive when senior Brandon Ortega escaped for a 26-yard touchdown for the final score of 41-22 after the Newberry extra point.
Runs by Senior Brody Sanders and Ortega moved the Dawgs to the Pirates 26 and Ortega took care of the rest.
The Pirates again put together a solid drive with 12 plays pushing them to the Bulldawgs’ eight-yard line, but defensive plays by senior Kendal Parker and Ayden Paquette stopped the Pirates one yard short of the first down to ice the game.
Richey was 12 for 18 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushes.
Ortega led the Cove rushing attack with 13 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. He added one catch for 22 yards and another score in the passing game.
“Big boys...I love them,” Ortega said about the lineman clearing the way for him in the run game. “They carried me the whole way. They should be taking this interview... not me.”
Ortega’s not worried about big stat lines as long as the team is winning.
“The main goal is to take a win,” he said. “I don’t worry about the stats or nothing. I’m just trying to win the game.”
Sanders added 69 yards and a score on 13 carries and added another touchdown on two catches for 11 yards.
Senior Russel Cochran had three catches for 87 yards to lead the Cove receivers, followed by junior Wyatt Nelson (2 for 30), senior Qeijon Donnell (3 for 24) and senior Tyrez Reynolds (1 for 20).
Cochran has really helped fuel the Bulldawgs’ passing games since switching from quarterback to wideout after week one.
“I just appreciate our coaches for putting us in a situation where we best fit into our team,” said Cochran. “Me and Shane just have that connection. We know exactly what we’re looking for since we both worked in the backfield together.”
The defense was led by Carter with eight tackles and an interception. He also had the 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and another 31-yard return.
Junior linebacker Benny Shumaker added eight tackles and senior linebacker Kendal Parker had six tackles, including two for losses.
The Pirates were led by senior running back Zach Watson with a game-high 164 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He added four catches for 40 yards.
Junior quarterback Austin Jinkerson added 50 yards on 11 rushes while Russell had 27 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Jinkerson added 15 for 29 passing for 121 yards with one interception. Junior Crash Davis led the receivers in catches with five for 39 yards.
Senior Benny Lara led the Granbury defense with 5.5 tackles while sophomore Brayden Olthoff added 4.5 tackles, including one for a loss.
The Bulldawgs were 6 for 11 (54.5 percent) on third down conversion attempts and 1 for 2 on fourth down. The Pirates were 5 for 15 (33.3%) on third down and 3 for 6 (50%) on fourth down.
The Bulldawgs doubled up the penalties with 10 for 115 yards while Granbury had five penalties for 50 yards.
“Our goal every week is to have no pre or post-snap penalties,” said Hammett. “Before the snap, it’s a lack of concentration. After the snap, it’s the same. Sometimes it’s borderline selfish.
“I thought our kids responded pretty well. We’ve got to knock some of those after whistle fouls out. Those are things we’re not going to be able to recover from in a district ball game.”
The Bulldawgs found their offense in the first half against the Pirates on their way to a 27-15 lead at the break.
An interception by junior defensive back Tyrese Carter halted the Pirates opening drive of the contest.
The biggest offensive play of the first quarter was a broken play that resulted in a 62-yard touchdown run by Richey with 6:35 left in the first quarter to cap a three-play drive that began at the Bulldawgs’ 32.
After forcing a Granbury punt, the Dawgs added to their lead with a 14-yard touchdown by Sanders with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
A 30-yard pass from Richey to Cochran, along with runs by Sanders and Ortega helped set up the Sanders score to cap a six-play, 59-yard drive.
The Pirates cut the Bulldawgs’ lead in half, 14-8, with a 21-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion by Watson with 4:38 left in the half. The score capped a six-play 67-yard drive.
The Bulldawgs struck back quickly with a 22-yard screen pass from Richey to Ortega to cap an eight-play, 62-yard drive. A 44-yard pass from Richey to Cochran helped set up the score for the 21-8.
The Pirates added another score with their two-minute offense. A 17-yard touchdown run by Watson and point after by Peacock made it a 21-15 contest with 1:03 left in the half.
A 25-yard pass from Jinkerson to Watson, a 12-yard pass to junior Elijah Dyer and a 16-yard pass to Davis; along with a five-yard run by Jinkerson set up the Watson score.
A pair of runs by Richey and passes from Richey to Donnell quickly moved the Bulldawgs into the Pirates’ red zone with seconds left in the half and a four-yard touchdown pass from Richey to Sanders capped the first half scoring with four seconds left in the half.
“That was a really proud point as a coach,” said Hammett. “The plays we ran on that series are ones we’ve been running since the first day like a two-minute drill and they ran it pretty effectively. We made a catch, we made a few scrambles and a few runs. It was a really efficient drive.”
The Bulldawgs (1-2) will open district play Friday night at home against Temple (2-1) with a 7:30 p.m kickoff time.
“We’re just ready to get on to next week,” said Ortega. “I’m starting early and I’m trying to help my team start early.”