Bulldawgs put themselves in playoff chase with sole win
By TJ MAXWELL
It was only one win, but it was a big one.
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs put all aspects of their game together on Friday night with a 56-33 win over the Killeen Kangaroos to put themselves within a game of five other 12-6A teams with just four games remaining in the regular season.
Losses by Belton (2-1), and Ellison (1-2), along with a win by previously winless Copperas Cove (1-2) over Killeen (0-3) and a win by previously winless Bryan (1-2) over Shoemaker (2-1) tightened the field up with Temple sitting in that top spot undefeated at 3-0.
Senior quarterback Shane Richey had a breakout night against Killeen as he was 9 for 15 passing for 104 yards and a touchdown with a 103.2 quarterback rating and added two more scores on the ground on 14 carries for 84 yards.
Senior offensive lineman Rictavius Moore and the rest of the Bulldawgs’ offensive line made some key blocks for Richey and for senior speedster Malcom Roberts, who also had a breakout night with three rushing touchdowns on 21 carries for 94 yards.
Junior Ezekiel Kaleopa-Lynn also made some big plays for the Copperas Cove offense, including a key catch for 11 yards on 3rd and 10 and his first career touchdown that gave the Bulldawgs a 35-21 lead in the third quarter.
After surrendering a score on the Kangaroos’ opening drive, the Bulldawgs responded with a 12-play scoring drive that was finished with a seven-yard quarterback keeper for a score on 4th and 5 from the Killeen 7.
The Bulldawgs’ defense then got in on the action with an interception inside the Copperas Cove 10-yard line by sophomore defensive back Jalien Thomas of Killeen’s ensuing possession and Cove senior Chandler Gastelo had a scoop and score on Killeen’s next possession for a 13-7 Cove lead after a bad snap went over the head of punter Gregory Gant.
The Copperas Cove special teams then got in the mix with an onside kick by junior kicker Kendrick Steward that was recovered by senior Tayvon McManemy at the Killeen four-yard line after careening off several Killeen players. Roberts finished the drive with a pair of two yard runs for the 21-7 Copperas Cove lead after a two-point conversion pass from Richey to Kaleopa-Lynn.
The ‘Roos made it a game with an eight-play scoring drive finished with a nine-yard run by Killeen junior De’Van’Te Johnson for a 21-13 halftime lead.
After deferring to start the game, the Bulldawgs received the opening kick of the second half and proceeding to take it 75 yards for a score on a six-yard run by Roberts. Runs by Roberts and Richey, along with passes from Richey to senior Wyatt Nelson and sophomore Demetris Pearce helped move the Bulldawgs to the Killeen 20.
Luck continued to be on Cove’s side when the ball was knocked loose on a scramble play by Richey, but bounced right back into his hands at the Killeen six before Roberts finished the drive with his second touchdown run for a 28-13 Cove lead.
Killeen again made it a one-score contest with a quick five-play scoring drive aided by a short kickoff. Runs by Killeen sophomore quarterback Roderick Norman and a pass from Norman to senior Jacobia Thomas moved the ‘Roos to the four-yard line. Two plays later, Killeen scores on a two-yard run by sophomore Tekoree Landours for a 28-21 score.
The Bulldawgs took over from there.
A seven-yard pass from Richey to Kaleopa-Lynn capped a 12-play scoring drive. Runs by ichey and Roberts, along with passes from Richey to Kaleopa-Lynn, McManemy, Nelson and Roberts set up the fifth completion of the drive by Richey to Kaleopa-Lynn for the score and 35-21 lead.
One of the youngest players on the Bulldawgs’ defense then came up with one of the biggest plays of the night. Freshman Xavier Taclibon was in the right spot at the right time when a Norman pass ricocheted off a helmet and into the hands of a sprinting Taclibon who returned it 74 yards for the score and 42-21 Cove lead with the extra point by Steward.
The Cove defense then helped ice the game with a fumble by Killeen’s Norman and the force by junior Kevin Pontious and recovery by junior Coffa Tulensru at the Killeen 14. A couple negative runs for the Bulldawgs was bailed out by an unsportsmanlike call against the Roos put the Bulldawgs at the 10 and Richey finished the drive with a scramble for the 49-21 score with 8:56 left in the contest.
After a huge hit by Cove senior linebacker Tyrese Francis knocked Killeen quarterback Norman out of the game, coaches’ son Cade Searcy engineered a scoring drive on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Thomas after long runs by former Bulldawg Warren Fleming.
Cove anwered with a one-play scoring drive on a 51-yard run by Roberts for the 56-27 score with 5:45 left.
Searcy added one final score on a two-yard run to cap a seven-play drive for the final score of 56-33.
The Bulldawgs look to repeat their success tonight when the Ellison Eagles come to town. On paper, Cove stands a good chance at coming away with a win as the Eagles are averaging just 16 points per contest while giving up nearly 32 points per game. Those numbers get better in district as the Eagles have score 21 points per contest in their three district games but are surrendering nearly 43 points per outing.
The Bulldawgs are averaging nearly 32 points per contest while allowing 51 points. The Bulldawgs have improved their scoring average to 25 points in their three district contests while allowing 44 points per contest.
The biggest difference in the Bulldawgs’ five losses and their one win was being on the right side of the turnover battle. After surrendering six turnovers in their loss to Shoemaker, the Bulldawgs had five takeaways against the ‘Roos.
Seymour punches ticket to Region II-6A XC Meet
Copperas Cove senior Ayden Seymour earned a trip to the Region II-6A Cross Country Meet with a sixth-place finish at the District12-6A Meet held Thursday morning at Belton’s Heritage Park.
Seymour ran the three-mile course in 16 minutes, 40 seconds to finish behind District Champion Aaron Crittendon of Ellison (1st – 15:49.4), Zachary Dennison of Belton (2nd – 16:06.1), Tyson Tamez of Temple (3rd – 16:18.2), Clayton Oaks of Belton (4th – 16:28.3), and Edwin Vega Oliveras of Ellison (5th – 16:38.9).
Sean Anderson (23rd – 17:43.7), Joshua Caal (33rd – 18:40.3), Jeremiah (Calderon (37th – 19:10.8), Angel Calderon (44th – 20:29.1), Ryan hicks (47th – 20:47.7) and Alejandro Sanchez (48th – 21:53.5) rounded out the Cove boys running for the varsity.
The boys’ team finished 6th with 140 points. Belton won the District Championship with 40 points, followed by Killeen Ellison (45) and Temple (62).
Julianna Sanchez finished 22nd overall to lead the Lady Dawgs. She finished with a time of 21:46.9. Harker Heights’ Ella Perry won the District Championship with a time of 18:14.7, followed by teammate Kailynn Denney (2nd – 18:42.0) and Belton’s Olivia Brillhart (3rd – 18:54.2).
Peyton Brewster (32nd – 23:13.1), Liliana Perez (34th - 23:34.1), Alyssalynn Moreno (37th – 24:25.1), Emily Poste (38th - 24:37.1), Olivia Hensley (47th – 25:57.6) and Kenzington Long (48th – 26:00.6) round out the Copperas Cove varsity girls.
The Lady Dawgs finished in sixth with 163 points with Belton securing the team title with 42 points followed by Harker Heights (53) and Ellison (68).
For full results of the District 12-6A Meet, visit https://www.profitracetiming.com/results.cfm.