Bulldawgs edge Grey Wolves 26-20
By TJ MAXWELL
KILLEEN - Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch expected a fight from Shoemaker Thursday night but wasn't necessarily expecting a bloody cage match with the feisty Grey Wolves but that's what they got. Never had the Grey Wolves been so close to overtaking the Bulldawgs than in the final regular season game where the Wolves were chasing history to qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back season for the first time.
“I think they're the fastest team in our district,” said Welch. “They are a very talented football team. I thought it was a playoff atmosphere tonight and that will help us because the teams we are going to play are going to be just like that.”
The Shoemaker Grey Wolves went blow for blow against the Bulldawgs Thursday night at Leo Buckley Stadium but the 'Dawgs won the decision with a 26-20 hard-fought victory.
Shoemaker back up quarterback Demetris Taylor found Isaiah Everett wide open inside the 10 with nothing but green between he and the endzone but Everett was unable to make the grab and Shamad Lomax broke up a pass in the endzone on fourth an seven to secure the win.
“Those are the toughest plays to complete when you're wide open,” said Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch. “He was wide open and that was a mistake on our part. It was a game of mistakes and really good plays. It came right down to the end and they made the last mistake and we won.”
The Grey Wolves had one last chance to secure the win, but Shamad Lomax was in position to break up the Taylor pass intended for Massey and save the win for the Bulldawgs.
“I knew it was going to be a pass play because it was a passing situation. I knew it was coming to me. The d-line pressured the quarterback and made him throw a bad pass.”
Two Jayson Stanley field goals were the only thing to separate the two teams that had over 120 rush yards each in the first half alone.
Trent Canion led the Cove effort with 116 yards and a touchdown in the first half against a Grey Wolves' squad that has held their opponents to just over 50 rush yards per game. Canion finished with 161 yards on 30 carries to lead the Dawgs.
“Our offensive line got a great push on a well-coached athletic defense and I just kept hitting it,” said Canion. “Coach is always talking about getting positive yards so I just put my head down and keep going. (I have) nothing but respect for this defense, probably one of the best defenses we've come across.”
The offensive line created running lanes for Canion and he exploited them with hard running.
“That was the difference in the ball game I thought,” said Welch. “Our offensive line, when they needed to do it, they did it all night. He had holes to get through and he hits them hard.”
They line also provided a good pocket for Harris to operate the offense from, although the defense put pressure on Harris most of the night a put a crimp in the passing game.
“If they're not the best team we've played, they're one of the best we've played all season. They are very athletic and there were a lot of phenomenal players on the field. It was an honor playing them. They are going to make us a better team later on in the playoffs and we're going to see some defenses like that in the playoffs.”
The Bulldawgs put together a 15-play drive that started at their own 36-yard line on their first drive of the game. Canion darted in from 10-yards out for the first score to cap the drive.
Shoemaker responded with a nine-play drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by junior running back Isaiah Everett. The drive began at Shoemaker 39-yard line after the Bulldawgs turned the ball over on downs.
The Bulldawgs were facing another fourth down when Tre Powell took a fake punt six yards for the first down and kept the Bulldawgs' second scoring drive alive. Powell was rewarded for his efforts with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Manny Harris that gave the Bulldawgs a 14-7 lead after the Stanley extra point.
Two drives later, the Grey Wolves knotted the game at 14 with a 71-yard run down the right sideline for the score by Everett.
The Bulldawgs regained the lead 27-24 on an eight-play drive capped by a Stanley field goal from 41-yards out.
A 28-yard kickoff return by Derris Prater set the Dawgs up at their own 40-yard line before six-straight runs by Canion and another by Antonio Lealiiee put Stanley in position for the field goal with 2:13 left in the half.
After a pass by Shoemaker's Joseph Massey was intercepted by Shamad Lomax and returned to midfield, The Dawgs added another Stanley field goal from 32 yards out with six seconds left in the half. The Bulldawgs put together a 10-play, 50-yard drive for the final score of the first half.
The Grey Wolves knotted the game again to start the second half with an 18-play, 72-yard drive that consumed 6:38 of the clock. A six-yard plunge by Everett finished the run, but the extra point by Clarence Cobb was blocked.
After another Cove interception, this one by Elijah Shipley, the Bulldawgs put together the game-winning drive on 12 plays that covered 86 yards. An 18-yard run by D'Mani Peapealalo accounted for the go ahead score. A penalty pushed the Dawgs back and forced a missed extra point by Stanley for the 26-20 Cove lead.
After a big stand by the Bulldawg defense, the offense was driving down the field to add some insurance points to the scoreboard but a botched hand off by Harris resulted in the Dawgs only turnover of the night.
The Grey Wolves took advantage of the miscue and drove 36 yards before the two incomplete passes ended their chances at the upset.
“We just wanted to finish the season strong,” said Harris. “We had a lot of doubters coming into the season. This is one of the games they doubted us in and we just wanted to come out and perform and that's what we did.”
Harris was 18-for-30 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown. Canion was 30-for-161 and a score and Davonn Hopkins-Phelps led the receivers with seven grabs for 71 yards. Powell added a touchdown catch. Jaylen Waters and Micheal Sumrall led the tackling with eight- and 7.5, respectively.
Leading the Grey Wolves was Everett with 163 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. The defense was led by Taneak Hall with 7.5 tackles.
The Bulldawgs now wait to see who they will face in the first round of the playoffs and they have two weeks in which to prepare.
“I think its good because all of the people that are banged up can get healthy and we'll have two weeks to prepare for whoever we're playing,” said Harris.