Cove’s defense looks improved despite 34-14 loss to Consol
By TJ MAXWELL
It’s hard to take anything positive away from a loss, especially a lopsided one.
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs’ football team, however, had some bright spots in their 34-14 season-opening loss to the A&M Consolidated Tigers.
Most of those bright spots came from an unfamiliar place - defense. A Copperas Cove team that has been known for its offensive prowess shone brighter on defense in the season opener at College Station; including a goal line stand with seconds left nothing left to play for.
“I thought the kids had grit,” said Copperas Cove head football coach and athletic director Jack Welch. “I saw kids that were playing bumped and bruised and they kept battling. I think our kids understand there is a foundation to be put together.
“You saw good things happen even at the end of the ball game. That goal line stand was big. That was inches and that big fullback they had running that football was powerful. That was a good deal and it was good for our kids to keep playing all the way to the end.”
Facing a vastly more experienced Tiger squad on their turf, the Dawgs would need to be near flawless to come away victorious.
The defense started that way after senior defensive back Andy Riley-Clark intercepted the pass of A&M Consolidated quarterback Caden Fedora on the second play of the Tigers’ first possession and then forced a punt on Consol’s second drive after Riley-Clark batted away another Fedora pass.
The defense’s job was made tougher when the offense went three-and-out on two of their first three possessions and just managed one first down on the other.
Cove’s defense got another win on the next trip down when they held the Tigers to a field goal to stop a 10-play 64-yard drive.
Another four-play offense drive by Cove again gave the Tigers good field position at their own 37 and eight plays later the Tigers punched it in from the one-yard line. A long pass from Fedora to senior Cade Williams for 39 yards help set up the scoring drive.
The defense got a little rest as the Dawgs offense put together a 10-play drive before the pass of senior quarterback Jaylen Smith was picked off inside the Tigers’ red zone to swing momentum back to Consol.
The Tigers quickly took advantage with a pass of 27 yards to Williams and two more passes to Charles Williams for 13 and 29 yards before a 10-yard scoring pass to junior Steven Ray gave the Tigers a 17-0 advantage at the half.
A 92-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff of the second half by Charles Williams put the Cove defense in a 24-0 hole with just 14 seconds off the clock in the third period and another punt by the offense.
The Dawgs forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ next possession and that led to Cove’s first score of the contest with 5:02 left in the half.
Passes from Smith to senior Daveon Thomas, Floyd Connell and Kaleb Hontz pushed the Dawgs down field before a one-yard plunge by senior Tim Edwards broght the Dawgs back within 17, 24-7, after the Antonio Mutt extra point.
The defense held strong again on the next possession. After allowing the Tigers to drive from the Consolidated 31 to the Cove nine, the defense dropped Fedora for a pair of losses forcing a 36-yard field goal with 1:58 left in the third.
The Dawgs then gave the Tigers the ball right back when Consol sophomore Nate Floyd intercepted Smith’s pass, intended for Micah Hawkes. Four plays later Fedora ran it in from 24 yards to all but seal the victory 34-7 with 11:48 remaining.
After a blocked field goal by the Dawgs’ special teams, Cove added the final score of the game with a five-yard touchdown run by junior Shontez Simmons to cap a seven-play 54-yard drive.
Runs by Simmons and Edwards, along with passes by junior backup quarterback Easton Simpson to senior Deadrian Malone, accounted for the Cove offense.
The Dawgs defense kept the score from growing by holding the Tigers out of the end zone on three plays from inside the four-yard line.
The Dawgs will get back to action 7:30 p.m. Friday night at home against Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL).