Dawgs show flashes in annual scrimmage against Abilene
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs clashed with the Abilene Eagles Saturday at Bulldawg Stadium in the last dressed rehearsal for both teams before the season opens up on Friday.
Despite a few miscues on offense and missed tackles on defense, the Bulldawgs looked pretty sharp throughout the two-hour scrimmage, despite coming up short 14-7 in the live quarter portion of the scrimmage.
“Comparing us to last year as far as the physicality and knowing what we’re trying to get done, I thought we looked a lot better than we did a year ago,” Copperas Cove athletic director and head football coach Jack Alvarez said after the scrimmage. “But, we’ve still got some coaching to do and some work to do. We still have some holes to fill and questions to answer.”
The live quarter looked like it was going to be a big one for the Bulldawgs when transfer senior Malachi Lyons squirted through a hole on the opening kickoff but a fumble halted Cove’s momentum resulting in a three-and-out.
The Eagles took full advantage by connecting on a 29-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldawgs stumbled once again when they fumbled it on 3rd and 6 inside the Abilene red zone.
“We’re down here in the red zone,” said Alvarez. “It’s a critical down and we turn the ball over. The same thing happened later. We’re moving the ball at will in the game portion of it. We had a little miscue and it got us off track.”
Some big runs by Abilene backfield quickly moved the Eagles inside the Bulldawgs’ red zone before a quarterback keeper put the Dawgs in a 14-0 hole.
“He’s a big kid and he made us tackle him,” Alvarez said of the bruising Abilene running back. “I’ll say that’s as physical of crew as we’ll play for a while. They have a little speed and they have some physicality about them.”
The Bulldawgs responded with a scoring drive culminating in an 18-yard touchdown scamper by junior running back Brandon Ortega. A quarterback scramble by sophomore Shane Richey and a pass from Richey to senior Jaylin Smith set up the score.
Alvarez likes what he saw but knows there are some kinks to be worked out before Burleson comes to town Friday night.
“I thought overall, we executed pretty good,” said Alvarez. “Offensively, we’ve got to get the plays in a little faster. We’re trying to get all of our signals together. We’re really close offensively.
“We’ve got some kinks on defense we’ve got to work out. We put a lot of pressure on the safeties, linebackers and defensive line. We’re probably looking for one kid in each of those spots. I’m not saying that in a negative manner, we just need some help. The kids we have out there can play, it’s just that at this point in the year, you want to find everybody you can.”
In the controlled portion of the scrimmage, junior quarterback Russel Cochran and senior wideout Jahmeel Rice made some highlight-reel plays including a 47-yard pitch and catch over the middle.
The Cove no. 2 defense struggled to open the scrimmage against the no. 2 Abilene offense, allowing 58 yards of offense on the first five plays.
The Bulldawgs’ no. 2 offense responded with a 50-yard run by Lyons and a 70-yard touchdown pass from Richey to junior receiver Josiah Key.
Ortega got in on the fun with a 60-yard touchdown run.
In the final portion of the controlled scrimmage, Cochran connected with Rice to the Abilene seven-yard line and Smith in the end zone.
The Bulldawgs open the season Friday night at home against the Burleson Elks with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“They will be way better than what we’ve been playing in this first game,” said Alvarez. “They will be way better than the UNAL team and I think that’s what we need going into the tough district schedule we’re fixing to play.”