Two scores by Dawgs’ defense lead the way in 42-23 win over EP Franklin
By TJ MAXWELL
ANDREWS - The Copperas Cove defense has shown growth and the ability to make game-changing plays thus far this season and that was no different Friday night 325 miles from home when they faced the El Paso Franklin Cougars in a neutral location showdown at the Mustang Bowl in Andrews.
The Bulldawgs surrendered just 23 points and 315 yards to the Cougars on Friday night but 70 of those yards and six of those points came late in the contest after Cove rotated in substitutes. They also scored two defensive touchdowns for the first time in recent memory.
Junior Tommy Connell snatched his second career interception and his first interception returned for a touchdown in just his third game on the Bulldawgs’ varsity squad to help the Dawgs take a 14-6 lead with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I just wanted to make a big play period,” said Connell. “I knew it was a close game and I just wanted to give my team the lead.”
Franklin quarterback Chris Kelley stared a little too long at sophomore wide receiver Gabriel Stonewall. Connell jumped the route and took it 29 yards for the pick six.
“That what some good stuff,” senior defensive end Zach Moody said about Connell’s defensive score. “I have to congratulate him because that was some good stuff.”
Moody is no stranger to varsity action as a third-year varsity starter but he also notched his first career touchdown in the win over the Cougars.
Moody was in the right place at the right time when junior linebacker Jack Schumaker and senior lineman Jacob Cramer ripped the ball away from Stonewall. Moody caught the ball in mid air before returning it 52 yards for the score.
“I really want to thank Jacob Cramer and Jack Schumaker,” said Moody. “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.”
The defense also forced five Cougar punts and two turnovers on downs to keep the EP Franklin offense at bay much of the game.
“We’re getting better said Copperas Cove head coach and athletic director Jack Welch. “We’re starting to fit. When I say fit, there is a lot that goes with that word. It’s our tackling, guys meshing together and coverages with the fronts and blitzes. It’s all starting to come together.
“I think our defense has really improved the last couple of years. We just have to keep plugging guys in that know that position. That’s why it’s important to teach the same things to the sub-varsity teams. We’ve got some really good young kids coming. If our defense will keep forming together, I think we’re going to be a formidable foe this year.”
The Bulldawgs’ defense surrendered the first score of the game on a six-play, 38-yard drive that began in Cove territory after a fumble by senior running back Myles Alexander gave the Cougars great field position.
The Dawgs then held the Cougars to just three points over the next 19:46 of game action until a pair of personal foul calls against Cove allowed the Cougars to advance from the Cove 36- to the Cove two-yard line before Kelley punched in the score.
“That was a feisty football team,” said Welch after the win. “I thought our kids fought throughout the ball game. The one thing I am disappointed in was the personal fouls – them and us.
“We can’t have that and we can’t allow that. We have to get that cleaned up and I can assure you we’ll be working on that tomorrow.”
There were five total personal foul calls in the contest although, two of them were offsetting and canceled each other out.
Connell likes the fight he saw from his team but also knows they have to be smart and not let teams bait them into unnecessary penalties.
“It depends on how they use that fire,” he said. If the other team is jawing with you, we just need to keep our cool and let our play do the talking.”
Moody was also disappointed in the uncalled for penalties.
“At first I was pretty disappointed in the defense today,” he said. “I was yelling at the guys to keep our composure.”
The Bulldawgs now face possibly the toughest two-week test in years when the No. 10 ranked (Texas Football Magazine) Garland Sachse Mustangs come to town Friday, followed by the No. 14 (Texas Football Magazine) Waco Midway Panthers next Friday for homecoming.
Welch is just focused on the task at hand – Garland Sachse – and what a task it is.
“What a tremendous ball club they are and what a tremendous opportunity its going to be for us,” Welch said about Friday’s home contest against Sachse. “Our kids know that the challenge is going to be tough. We’ve got to go into this ball game playing perfect and doing everything we can to give them a fight.
“I’m excited about the opportunity.”