Bulldawgs fall to Wildcats in season finale
By TJ MAXWELL
TEMPLE – After a close first 14 minutes of action, Temple took advantage of four Copperas Cove turnovers in the second quarter to take a 45-10 lead in the first half on their way to a 55-17 win Friday night at Wildcat Stadium in Temple.
“I thought we played in the first half with them pretty good until right there at the end when they got some big breaks,” Copperas Cove head football coach and athletic director Jack Alvarez said in his post-game interview. “We played hard. Our kids done well all year. I’m not upset with the kids on their effort or anything like that. We just need to continue to get bigger, stronger and faster and get ready for next year.”
Temple senior running back Anthony Jackson had 209 yards and four touchdowns on just six carries in the first half alone, including touchdown runs of 58, 47, 85 and two yards.
Despite winning the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes, Bulldawg turnovers and quick strikes by the Wildcats gave Temple 523 total yards on 41 plays to Cove’s 327 yards on 63 plays.
“Defensively, tonight we ran up against some guys that are really fast,” aid Alvarez. “If we didn’t get a hand on them early, it was tough for us.”
Senior quarterback Vance Willis threw for two more scores on 2 for 4 passing for 76 yards in the half. Senior AJ McDuffy caught the first touchdown from 38 yards out to break a 10-10 tie with 9:12 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldawgs struck first with a 14-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Russel Cochran to cap a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
After a 53-yard kickoff return set up the Wildcats in Bulldawg territory and a pass interference call moved the Wildcats inside the Cove 20, a defensive stand by the Dawgs forced Temple to settle for a 36-yard field goal by junior kicker Adrian Guzman for a 7-3 Cove lead with 4:51 left in the first quarter.
Temple then took the lead on the first play from scrimmage on the first of four first-half touchdown runs by Jackson after forcing a Cove punt to the Wildcats 42.
The Bulldawgs tied the game at 10-all with a 32-yard field goal from Cove senior kick Cam Ryan with 10:19 left in the first half to cap a 10-play that began at the Bulldawgs’ 20.
Runs of 20 and eight yards by Willis moved the Wildcats into Cove territory on the ensuing possession before Willis found McDuffy for a 38-yard touchdown for the 17-10 lead after the Aaron Wagaman extra point.
The Wildcats then took advantage of four second-quarter turnovers by the Bulldawgs to finish the half with 35 unanswered points to take a 45-10 lead into the locker room.
Temple senior Roman Jackson picked off the pass of Cochran at the Wildcats’ 46-yard line for the first of three interceptions by Roman in the quarter.
Anthony Jackson then scored from 47 yards out three plays later for a 24-10 Temple lead after the Wagaman extra point.
Jackson snagged his second interception in as many plays as he would pick off the Cochran offering on the first play from scrimmage at the at Bulldawgs’ 46-yard line.
A defensive stand by Cove forced a punt, however the Temple defense forced a fumble two plays later that was recovered by Temple junior Keon Williams at the Cove 15 and sent senior running back Micah Cox to the bench with an injury. Jackson ran it in from two yards out two plays later for a 31-10 Temple lead with 3:19 left in the half.
“Micah had a tough week,” said Alvarez. “He was actually doubtful for the game. I didn’t know if he’d play or not tonight. I think he got rolled up over there when we had the turnover and I think that was it for him.”
Another interception by Roman Jackson deep in Wildcat territory halted another Cove drive and set up Jackson’s fourth touchdown run of the half on an 85-yard jolt through the middle of the Cove defense on the second play from scrimmage.
After forcing a turnover on downs on 4th and 1, Temple increased their lead to 35, 45-10, on another one-play scoring drive when Willis connected with senior tight end for a 38-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the half. The score was Temple’s fifth of the second quarter.
The Bulldawgs were unable to take advantage of a fumble by Willis that was recovered by senior Jahmeel Rice at the Bulldawgs’ 35.
A turnover on downs on 4 and 4 from the Wildcats 46 set up the final touchdown drive of the night for the Wildcats.
A 14-yard keeper by Willis for a touchdown finished a six-play Temple drive for the 52-10 Wildcats’ lead with 5:43 left in the third quarter. Wagaman would add a 30-yard field goal to begin the fourth period to cap the Temple scoring.
The Bulldawgs notched the final score of the night with 2:48 left in the game on a 19-yard touchdown run by junior Brody Sanders to finish a 16-play, 58-yard drive.
Cochran finished with 76 yards rushing and one touchdown on 13 carries in his first start at quarterback since injuring his throwing hand in the season opener. Junior Brandon Ortega (10 carries for 68 yards), Cox (11 for 36), Sanders (5 for 32) and freshman Warren Fleming (5 for 16) closed out the rushing. Cochran finished 5 for 18 passing for 58 yards and three interceptions. Rice had one catch for 41 yards and senior tight end Ethan Swanner had two grabs from 40 yards.
Senior Jerome Gaillard had 9.5 tackles to lead the Bulldawgs’ defense followed by senior Kendal Parker (4 tackles, 1 TFL) and senior Marquis Brooks (3.5 tackles).
Anthony Jackson finished with 261 yards and four scores on 13 attempts while Willis added 75 yards and a score on nine carries. Willis was also 3 for 5 passing for 102 yards and two more scores.
Senior linebacker Eric Shorter led the Temple defense with 10.5 tackles and one tackle for a loss. Junior Jayven Taylor (6 tackles, 3 TFL) and junior Cody Little (6 tackles) followed.
The Bulldawgs end their injury-plagued season 3-7 overall and 2-6 in District 12-6A play. Several more players were banged up in the finale.
“If you count Rusty back in out of the original guys, I don’t think we have but three of the original 11 guys on offense,” said Alvarez. “I thought we were pretty positive most of the year offensively. We kept the ball moving.
“I just want to say I appreciate the town, the community and most of all or seniors and the kids we have coming back.”
The Wildcats (8-2, 7-1) will face defending state champions Longview in the opening round of the playoffs.