Dawgs fall out of playoff contention with overtime loss
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs rallied back from a 28-14 deficit to force overtime but came up just short in their 34-28 loss to the Shoemaker Grey Wolves Friday night at Bulldawg Stadium. The loss eliminated Cove from playoff contention and locked the Grey Wolves into one of the four playoff spots.
“It’s just one of those deals,” Copperas Cove head football coach and athletic director Jack Alvarez said after the loss. “We had a chance to make some plays down here towards the end, but we just came up short tonight. I thought my kids played hard. I’m very, very proud of them. They showed a lot of courage tonight.”
Leading 14-7 at the half, the Bulldawgs looked to be in control when senior defensive back Jerome Gaillard intercepted the pass of junior quarterback Ty Bell in the endzone to halt a six-play drive that started at the Shoemaker 42.
However, the Grey Wolves’ defense forced a three-and-out. Bell then scored on a 53-yard scramble on the first play from scrimmage for a 14-13 lead after a bad snap on the extra-point attempt.
Another defensive stand by the Wolves forced a punt from the back on the endzone and Shoemaker junior Monaray Baldwin returned it 28 yards to the Bulldawgs’ 7. Bell then ran it in for another one-play scoring drive and their first lead of the night, 21-14, after a two-point conversion run by sophomore Omari Evans.
The Wolves increased their lead to 14 when an interception by Brandon Cray halted a six-play Cove drive at the Shoemaker 17.
Bell then took over with runs of 19, 2, 30 before finding junior receiver De’Andre Exford for a 36-yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead with 11:45 left in regulation.
The momentum began to swing back to the Bulldawgs as runs by sophomore quarterback Shane Richey, senior running back Micah Cox and junior running back Brandon Ortega pushed the Dawgs to the Shoemaker 20.
A 20-yard touchdown run by Cox finished the nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive for a 28-20 Shoemaker lead after the missed extra point.
A tackle for no gain by Gaillard on 4th and 4 from the Wolves’ 47, set up the tying scoring drive for the Dawgs. Runs of 22, 6 and 11 by Cox pushed the Dawgs inside the Shoemaker 10 and an eight-yard touchdown run by Cox finished the drive for a 28-28 score. The two-point conversion run by Cox was stuffed at the 15-yard line before he found a seam and exploited it for the conversion at 28-all tie with 5:19 remaining.
Bell broke free for another long run when senior safety Christian Tuiasosopo tracked him down from behind with a touchdown-saving tackle at the Cove 32 before the defense forced a turnover on downs with 3:30 left.
The Bulldawgs looked poised to close out the game after Tuiasosopo intercepted Bell’s pass at the Bulldawgs’ 24 and returned it to the Shoemaker 44 with 1:50 left after the Wolves forced a Cove punt with 2:02 remaining.
The Bulldawgs looked to be in position for the go-ahead score when a pass by backup Russel Cochran when the ball went through the receivers’ hands into the hands of Shoemaker senior Morgan Anderson with 21 seconds left in regulation.
The Bulldawgs had one more chance to secure the win in overtime but an incomplete pass on 4th and 2 gave Shoemaker the ball with a chance for the win with any score.
A 15-yard pass from Bell to Exford for a touchdown closed the contest and Cove’s hopes at a playoff berth.
“The kids laid it on the line for me and that’s all I could ask,” said Alvarez. “They played hard and played to the end. We had a chance right there at the end to win the game but there was a little miscommunication. That happens at times and I put that on me.”
Cove finished with 332 yards of total offense on 67 plays with 17 first downs.
Cox led the way with 172 yards and four scores on 32 carries. He also had three catches for 39 yards. Richey was 5 for 14 for 76 yards and an interception and Cochran was 2 for 5 for 21 yards and a pick.
David (7 tackles, 2 TFL, FR) and Gaillard (6 tackles, 1.5 TFL, INT, FR) led the Cove defense.
Bell had 17 carries for 205 yards and two touchdowns and threw for three more on 13 for 25 passing for 183 yards in the win. Exford had eight catches for 130 yards and two scores.
Anderson (10 tackles, 2 TFL, INT) and Keith Cunningham (7 tackles) led the Shoemaker defense.
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs took advantage of three first-half turnovers by the Grey Wolves by converting two of them to scores to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
A bad handoff by Shoemaker gave the Bulldawgs their first takeaway of the first half when senior Ayden Paquette pounced on the ball at the Bulldawgs’ 32.
An offensive holding call on 4th and 4 from the Shoemaker 36 negated a nine-yard pass play from Richey to Smith and halted a 10-play Cove drive.
The Dawgs defense then forced a turnover on downs on the Wolves’ next drive before recovering a bad snap on a Shoemaker punt attempt on the ensuing Wolves’ drive which set up the first score of the night on a one-yard plunge by Cox.
Senior linebacker Kendal Parker stripped the ball from Shoemaker junior Devin Brown and senior Nathaniel David recovered it at the Shoemaker 15.
Runs of four and eight yards for the score gave the Bulldawgs a 14-0 lead with 2:50 left in the half.
The Wolves broke the shutout on their next possession when Bell found junior wide receiver Vontez Martin for a 12-yard touchdown to finish a seven-play, 67-yard scoring drive with 35 seconds left in the half.
The Bulldawgs (2-5 in 12-6A) close out the season at Temple (6-1) on Friday.
“It’s been a challenging year, probably one of my most challenging years in a long time because they are really great kids and they try really hard,” said Alvarez. “We’ve been close and it’s because of how hard they try. I’m very proud of my guys.
“I always tell them, ‘we’re going to play for what’s available.’ Temple is next. Let’s go get them.”