Halftime adjustments propel Panthers past Dawgs 54-35
By TJ MAXWELL
For 24 minutes, Copperas Cove held the potent Midway offense in check. The Bulldawgs nearly doubled the Panther offensive output and would have taken the lead into the locker room at halftime if not for two missed field goals and an interception returned for a touchdown by the Midway defense. Cove surrendered just 141 yards of total offense in the half.
“We played good football for the most part but we had a couple mistakes that were the difference,” said Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch. “The first half, I thought we came out with a great resolve. We gave up a score with that interception and that hurt us but our defense played lights out.”
The second half, however, was a completely different tale.
The Panthers rattled off 246 yards of offense and 24 points in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Midway saddled up their horses and ran behind their beefy offensive line for nearly 200 yards in the quarter to take a 40-21 lead into the final frame.
“When we came back out in the second half, they put big body on big body and we didn’t match up with them,” said Welch. “They did a good job of taking it. We didn’t give it up, they just did a good job of taking it.”
The Panthers scored on all four possessions in the period, including three unanswered scores to begin the second half.
“They’re a very good ball club and very well coached,” said senior running back Antonio Lealiiee. “We were expecting this coming in. We just wanted to get the time of possession and run the clock.”
A four-play drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown run by Ger’markee Satterwhite and took just 1:03 off the game clock kick-started the lopsided quarter for the Panthers.
After forcing the first Bulldawg punt of the game, the Panthers embarked on their longest drive of the night to take a 30-14 lead. A 12-play drive that consumed almost four minutes resulted in a four-yard touchdown run by Korey Chatman.
After forcing another Cove punt, the Panthers added a 39-yard field goal by Jackson Smith to push their lead to 19.
The Bulldawgs were again forced into a punting situation on their next possession but a fake punt and 64-yard touchdown run by Lealiiee again put the Bulldawgs in striking range, 33-21.
The Panthers snatched back the momentum for good on the first play from scrimmage of their next drive. Korey Chapman squirted through the Bulldawgs’ defense for a 69-yard touchdown on a 23 second scoring drive.
In the fourth quarter Midway again had an answer for every Cove score.
A pitch and catch from Cove junior quarterback Caine Garner to senior receiver Ra’shaun Henry went 64 yards to the one-yard line to set up a touchdown plunge for Lealiiee to again cut the Midway lead to 12.
Another one-play scoring drive by Midway sucked the air out of the hometown crowd. Chatman again found a crack and took it to the house for a 64-yard score and 19-point lead with 9:04 left in the contest.
“We can’t have that,” said Welch. “We’ve got to be able to go right back on that field and stuff them. There is no excuse for a one-play drive like that. We’ve got to be good enough to get that done.”
A one-play drive on Cove’s ensuing possession had an opposite outcome. A deep pass by Garner down the sideline was intercepted by Midway’s Dae Dae Walker, but fortunately for the Dawgs the Panthers were unable to turn it into points this time.
The Bulldawgs again cut the lead to 12 on their next possession. An 11-yard run by Lealiiee capped a nine-play drive that began at the Cove 31.
An unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Cove set up the Panthers just inside Cove territory and seven straight runs by Eric Clayburn, capped by a one-yard touchdown plunge, put an exclamation point on the Panther win.
The Bulldawgs got on the board first to start the game. A nine-play scoring drive for Cove resulted in a 20-yard touchdown grab by Henry.
The Panthers one-upped the Dawgs with a 10-play scoring drive for their first possession of the contest. An 11-yard run by Clayburn finished the drive.
The Bulldawgs began the second quarter with another scoring drive. A one-yard plunge by Garner put Cove ahead 14-7.
Midway’s next possession stalled but Snith was able to connect on a 37-yard field goal to pull the Panthers within four.
The pick six on the next Cove possession by Midway defender Lance Jones gave the Panthers a lead that they would never relinquish. The Panthers led 16-14 at the half after the Bulldawgs missed their second field goal attempt of the half.
Lealiee added to his district-leading yardage total with 221 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries for Cove. He now has 1,297 yards to lead the district and has a second-best 11 touchdowns.
“I felt pretty good,” said Lealiiee. “The offense took a big step. The (offensive) line was staying on their blocks for the first half. We just needed to execute in the second half and the defense needed to get stops.”
“Lealiie is running hard and he’s running with authority,” said Welch. “The linemen are giving him a crack and that’s all you really have to give him.”
Garner was 9 for 17 passing for one touchdown and two interceptions. Henry led the Cove receivers with three grabs for 87 yards and a score.
“The offense is executing better and better and the linemen are blocking,” said Henry. “The receivers are just catching the ball and getting up field.”
Junior linebacker Tyson Curry led the Bulldawgs in tackles with 11.5.
Chatman rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries while Clayburn recorded 102 yards and two scores on 18 totes. Satterwhite added another score on five carries for 38 yards.
Glaesmann was 5 for 14 for 116 yards passing for the Panthers.
Larry Parks led the Midway defense in tackles with six.
The Dawgs need to at least win one of their final two games against Harker Heights in Killeen and Shoemaker at home.
“I feel that we’re ready for the playoffs,” said Lealiiee. “We need to get a win next week to get a playoff spot. If we keep executing and doing our jobs, we’ll be great.
“We need to have a good week of practice and we need to execute.”