Bulldawgs were one play away from state berth
By TJ MAXWELL
AUSTIN – The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs’ 7 on 7 team came up one play short of playing for the Westlake SQT championship and clinching a spot in the 2019 Friday afternoon at Westlake High School in Austin.
After losing to already qualified Lake Travis 47-20 in the opening contest, the Bulldawgs rallied back to beat Dripping Springs 28-12 and Austin Reagan 32-20 to advance to the semi-final matchup with San Angelo Central.
The Dawgs took a 33-32 lead over Central with just over two minutes remaining, but two plays later, Central took back the lead for good.
“We didn’t quite finish up,” said Copperas Cove head football coach and athletic director Jack Alvarez. “I’m proud of our guys. I thought we played hard, we competed and made plays. I thought our attitude was good all day. We just came up a little short. I appreciate the kids and their efforts. It was a good day.
“To me, we are way more efficient than we were at this time last year.”
The Dawgs struck first in their semifinal game against Central.
The Dawgs took a 6-0 lead on a 4th and Goal pass from junior Russel Cochran to senior Jaylin Smith, but Central quickly responded with a score for the 6-6 tie after both team’s extra point tries were unsuccessful.
Cochran again targets Smith for a pair of first downs before again finding him in the end zone for a 12-6 lead.
Another quick strike by Central made it a 12-12 contest.
The Dawgs regain the lead on a pass across the middle to Xzavier McCarter for the 19-12 Cove lead after the extra-point grab by Gauge Nelson.
However, Central would be the last to score in the half for a 20-19 lead after a successful two-point try.
Central took control of the contest with another score to open the second half for a 26-19 lead but a pair of passes to Nelson for a touchdown and extra point knotted the game at 26-all.
After another quick strike by Central made it a 32-26 game with just over five minutes to play.
Passes to Cox and Elijah Delacruz set up the go-ahead touchdown from Cochran to senior Jahmeel Rice with the extra-point pass to Smith for the one-point, 33-32, lead.
A 45-yard pass by Central then set up the final score in the 38-33 contest.
Alvarez knows that the 7 on 7 season is building chemistry and not so much about wins and losses.
“The goal is to keep our kids together and keep them playing and give them a chance to go to state. That was our shot, but we still have a couple weeks of league play. We just need to keep getting better and better at throwing, catching and covering.
Winning in the summer can build momentum, but it doesn’t always translate to the fall, says Alvarez.
“Everybody wants to judge it like it’s regular football, but I was in district with a team that we beat 70-0 in 7 on 7 and they beat us in the state tournament,” he said.
Senior running back Micah Cox, played the role of wide receiver and led the way for the Bulldawgs through much of the tournament, including some highlight-reel catches.
Although he was disappointed with the close loss, he liked the way their offense worked together.
“I feel like we did good,” said Cox. “For how our offense is mostly running, for us to come out in 7 on 7 and mix around the pass was amazing.”
Like Alvarez, Cox knows the true goal of 7 on 7 is to create that team bond and build chemistry, especially with so many new faces in the mix.
“It’s very important to get that timing down and build that chemistry,” he said. “I feel like we’re starting to get it. We all have chemistry and that trust in each other so we’re going to play for each other.”