Harris returns for Homecoming victory over Roos
By TJ MAXWELL
With Manny Harris back in the lineup, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Copperas Cove history, it was the defense that led the Bulldawgs to a 35-20 win over the Killeen Kangaroos Friday night at Bulldawg Stadium.
A huge strip of the Killeen ball carrier by senior linebacker Jaylen Waters prevented a Killeen score in the second quarter and a pair of big stands by the ‘Dawgs defense in the fourth quarter. After the Roos pulled within one, 21-20, senior defensive end Tyrell Thompson made a stop for a loss against Killeen quarterback Kenneth Arnold on fourth down with 3:16 remaining on the Roos next possession after a four-play 75-yard Bulldawgs drive resulted in a D’Mani Peapealalo 41-yard touchdown for the 28-20 lead.
“I think our defense did really good,” said junior cornerback Shamad Lomax who was tasked with shutting down Killeen’s big receiver Dante Ellis-Thomas a good portion of the night.. “Our defensive line gave a lot of pressure to the quarterback, making him scramble a little bit and give us some bad passes. The linebackers filled the holes and the DBs kept everything in front of them and we did a good job all around.”
The Dawgs took over on downs at the Killeen 20 yard line and after two runs for 13 yards by Trent Canion, senior linebacker turned tailback, Jaylen Waters, followed senior defensive end turned fullback, Thompson into the end zone for the final Bulldawg score, 35-20.
Harris received a huge ovation from the Copperas Cove fans as he made his way out of the Bulldawg tunnel in pregame festivities. It was homecoming night for Harris, just as it was for Copperas Cove High School.
“It felt great being back out here with my teammates, and the warm welcoming the fans gave me, it was just amazing begin back out here,” said Harris. “Whenever I went down, my first thought was I just ended my senior season, but I just kept praying and believing in God. He answered my prayers and I got to come back out here and play.”
Harris showed just a sliver of that rust he accumulated over the past three weeks but it didn’t take long to shake it off.
The senior quarterback hooked up with one of his favorite targets, Derris Prater, for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of his triumphant return.
“It felt pretty good,” Prater said about the first connection in three weeks between Harris and himself. “Our coaches have done a great job this week in preparing us for all three quarterbacks. We didn’t really know who we were going to get coming out this first drive. Manny made a great throw, the offensive line blocked great and I was able to snag it for the touchdown.”
Harris didn’t shatter any records in his first game back at the helm for the Bulldawgs but he was solid from under center, hitting 12 of his 23 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
“I’m glad that he’s ready to go and he’s full go,” said Copperas Cove head coach Jack Welch about Harris returning to the lineup. “I’m proud of Manny and I’m proud of our team for rallying around him, but I’m also very proud of our other two quarterbacks. They were ready to go, both of them. That is a mark of a ball player.
Copperas Cove scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Devon Hopkins-Phelps to LaDerian Johnson with 6:51 left in first quarter to start the Bulldawg scoring.
After a pair of strong defensive stands by the Bulldawgs to start the game, the Cove offense embarked on a four-play, 36-yard drive that resulted in the Johnson score.
Killeen responded with a 70-yard, 6-play drive that culminated in a Devin Johnson four-yard touchdown scamper.
Cove regained their lead with a five-play 63-yard drive that saw the reemergence of Harris who has missed the last three games after being injured 24 seconds into their week two contest against Lake Travis.
A nine-yard run by D’Mani Peapealalo began the drive at the Cove 37. Harris’ first pass was a completion to Tre Powell for six yards. A 19-yard pass from Harris to Hopkins-Phelps and an eight-yard scamper by Trent Canion set up 21-yard touchdown connection from Harris to senior receiver Derris Prater for the go-ahead score, 14-7, with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldawgs extended their lead to 21-7 with 9:29 remaining in the third quarter on a 10-play, 60-yard drive. After a pair of runs by LaDerian Johnson to start the drive, Harris connected with Hopkins-Phelps for a pair of completions. A pass interference call on Killeen that moved the ‘Dawgs to the and two passes to Derris Prater of five- and 17-yards set up a nine-yard Canion run for the score.
The Roos climbed back in the game with a 9-play, 76-yard scoring drive with 1:54 left in the third quarter. A four-yard plunge by Killeen quarterback Arnold accounted for the score. A 38-yard run by Killeen’s Devin Johnson helped set up the score.
Killeen pulled within one with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter on a four-play, 69-yard run that culminated in a two-yard Johnson dive. The extra point attempt by Alex Gilland bounced off the upright.
Both teams were very equal in time of possession at nearly w24 minutes each and in total yardage with Cove registering 359 yards on 66 plays and Killeen recording 342 yards on 61 plays.
“Mistakes made the difference,” A couple of their punts early put them in the hole. I think they were ranked to beat us by two points. Usually, in a game like that when you’re pretty well evenly matched, it’s going to come down to penalties and mistakes.
Peapealalo led the Cove running backs with eight carries for 89 yards and a touchdown. Canion added six carries for 65 yards and Johnson had 12 carries for 41 yards.
Leading the Cove receivers was Prater with five snags for 57 yards and a touchdown, followed by Hopkins-Phelps with three grabs for 40 yards.
Harris was 12 for 23 for 112 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins-Phelps was 2 for 2 for 30 yards and a score.
Michael Sumrall, Waters and Elijah Shipley led the Bulldawg defense with 6.5 tackels each and Tristen Marez snagged a couple sacks in his first game starting on the defensive line in place of Shakanah Herrera who was not suited up for the contest.
For Killeen, Johnson led all rushers with 18 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns and Arnold added 14 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. Arnold was also 8 for 20 for 173 yards from the quarterback position.
Ellis-Thomas led the Roos’ receivers with three grabs for 75 yards.
Killeen sophomore Jalil Bethel led the Roos in tackles with eight.