Cove logs hundreds of miles and yards in 42-23 win
By TJ MAXWELL
ANDREWS – The Bulldawgs racked up more yardage than they did mileage in their 42-23 win over El Paso Franklin last night at the Mustang Bowl in Andrews.
The team traveled nearly 300 to face off with the Cougars of Franklin and, after a shaky start, the Bulldawgs ate up another 426 yards of real estate to earn the win.
After mustering just 166 rushing yards in their first two contests combined, the Dawgs nearly doubled that total with 265 rush yards on 48 carries in the win over Franklin.
Junior Shontez Simmons exploded for 112 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, including the opening score for Cove.
“I just have to thank my lineman because they got on their game this time and they blocked who they had to get,” said Simmons. “I found the creases and got the touchdowns.”
The offense drew inspiration from the defense after junior Tommy Connell stole the pass away from Franklin’s Gabriel Stonewall and returned it 29 yards to give Cove a 14-6 advantage.
“I just wanted to make a big play period,” Tommy Connell said about his pick six that put Cove up 14-7. “I knew it was a close game and I just wanted to give my team the lead.”
Senior Zach Moody then snagged a stripped ball from mid-air and returned it 52 yards for the score to give Cove a 21-9 halftime lead.
“I really want to thank Jacob Cramer and Jack Schumaker,” Moody said about his touchdown recovery. “They are the ones that helped me make that play. They popped the ball out and I caught it and took it back to the house. I wasn’t expecting that at all but I got a chance to make a play and I made it.”
Head coach and athletic director Jack Welch also liked what he saw from his defense.
“I thought our defense played well and I thought the difference in the first half was the two scores our defense was able to get us,” he said. “It really gave us the edge for the whole night.”
The Dawgs looked to be in trouble to begin the second half when they turned the ball over on downs to halt a 10-play drive and Franklin quickly narrowed the Cove lead to four, 21-17, on a four-play scoring drive that took just 50 seconds.
A 30-yard run by senior Seth Dominguez put the Cougars in Cove territory before a pair of personal fouls against the Dawgs marched the Cougars to the two-yard line before Kelley’s two-yard plunge.
The Dawgs quickly righted the ship, however, with an eight-play, 75 yard scoring drive capped by a 10-yard Simmons run.
Runs by seniors Tim Edwards and Myles Alexander and a pass from senior quarterback Jaylen Smith to senior receiver Bryce Ranes put the Dawgs near midfield. Runs by Simmons and a defensive pass interference call against the Cougars set up Simmons at the 10 for the rushing touchdown that opened the Dawgs lead to 11, 28-17 with 4:04 left in the third.
Another defensive stand by the Dawgs forced a Cougar punt on 4th and 23 and led to another Cove scoring drive – this one for 85 yards on seven plays.
Big passes from Smith to Ranes and senior Kaleb Honts of 29 and 12, respectively, pushed Cove to midfield before he found Honts again to get the Dawgs near the Franklin red zone and a 14-yard pass to Ranes that pushed Cove inside the 10.
Smith then found Honts for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 11:56 remaining in the contest.
The Bulldawgs forced another Cougar punt to set up their final scoring drive of the game for Cove.
An 18-yard pass to Honts began the drive and a 26 yard pass to Ranes quickly moved the Dawgs into Franklin’s red zone before runs by Smith and Simmons set up a two-yard dive by Simmons for the 42-17 Cove lead with 7:00 left on the clock.
“There towards the end you saw our offense rolling and the defense was doing a good job of holding them,” said Welch. “We started moving the ball with some power and throwing the ball pretty accurate and that’s good to see. But, our defense scoring two times was critical to give us the lead in the first half.”
Another big defensive play by Moody forced another turnover on downs on the Cougars’ next possession before Franklin scored the final touchdown of the contest for either team with 2:21remaining.
A 38-yard pass from Kelley to junior Khatib Lyles flipped the field position for the Cougars and runs by Kelley put the Cougars inside the Cove 20. Dominguez then ran it in from 16 yards for the final score of 42-23 after the missed extra point.
The Cougars drew first blood in the opening quarter when Kelley capped a seven-play, 38-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run to give Franklin a 6-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion and blocked extra point after a penalty gave the Cougars another attempt at the extra point. Floyd Connell blocked the kick and Riley-Clark nearly broke loose for the score but was stopped near midfield.
The Dawg defense bent but didn’t break on the Cougars’ first drive, stopping Kelley short of the first down on 4th and 3 from the Dawgs after allowing the Cougars to mount a 10-play drive.
A fumble by Alexander at the Dawgs’ 31 gave the Cougars another chance and they cashed in with the Kelley score.
The Bulldawgs quickly took back control of the contest with a five-play, 68-yard drive highlighted by the 47-yard touchdown run by Simmons and extra point by Riley-Clark with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.
It took the Dawgs just 36 seconds to score again when Tommy Connell jumped in the throwing lane and took the Kelley pass 29 yards for a touchdown and the 14-6 lead with 22 seconds left after the extra point.
A 44-yard kickoff return by Franklin’s James McClain gave the Cougars the ball on the Dawgs’ end of the field but another strong defensive stand by Cove held the Franklin offense to just three points on the Mitchell Pete 26-yard field goal.
Another Cove fumble looked like it may cost the Dawgs the lead when David Powers stripped the ball from Simmons and Juan Rubalcava fell on it at the Franklin 45.
However, the Dawgs returned the favor on the next play when Schumaker stripped the ball from Stonewall and it landed in the outstretched arms of Moody who returned it 52 yards for the score with 6:36 left. The Riley-Clark extra point gave the Dawgs a 21-9 advantage at the half.
Edwards added 75 yards on 12 carries to Simmons’ totals in the rush game.
Smith finished 12 for 16 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown with Ranes (four catches for 80 yards) and Honts (five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown) being his favorite targets.
Senior Darius Fuselier led the Cove tacklers with 6.5, including one for a loss, while Tommy Connell had five tackles (1.5 for losses) and had a pick six. Moody also had 2.5 tackles (one for a loss) to go with the fumble recovery touchdown.
Kelley finished the night 14 for 21 for 89 yards and an interception with Lyles leading the receivers with three grans for 55 yards. Kelley also ran for 50 yards and two scores on 11 carries.
Dominguez led the Cougars rushing attack with 17 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown.
David Powers led the defense with nine tackles (one for loss).