Turnovers cost Dawgs in 17-14 loss to Roos
By TJ MAXWELL
The Killeen Kangaroos scored all of their 17 points on turnovers committed by the Dawgs as they held off Cove 17-14 in the District 12-6A opener Thursday night at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“Tonight, you take your hat off to Killeen,” said Cove head coach Jack Welch. “They basically played mistake free and we had mistakes that turned into points and that makes a difference.”
The momentum seemed to be slightly shifting towards the Dawgs as they put together a 16-play drive spanning the first and second quarters but the drive stalled inside the Roos’ five-yard line on the first of two big defensive stands by Killeen.
Killeen held Cove out of the end zone on four-consecutive running plays inside the 10 by senior Antonio Lealiiee to force a turnover on downs.
After Cove forced a punt on the Roos next possession, Killeen drew first blood with an interception and return 60 yards for the score by senior Eddie Adams on the pass by Cove’s Tyler Lea.
Cove quarterback Caine Garner checked back in the game for Lea on the Dawg’s next possession and led the Dawgs to a five-play, 60-yard scoring drive capped by five-yard touchdown pass to senior Joed Hernandez to give Cove a 7-6 lead heading into the break.
Two Killeen scores in just over two minutes put the Kangaroos ahead by 10 points, 17-7, with 2:22 left in the third quarter. Both scores came after Cove fumbles set up the Roos in Bulldawg territory.
The Dawgs’ defense forced a punt from the Killeen 22 but a muff by senior Shamad Lomax and fumble recovery by Killeen senior Alvin White set up the Roos for the go-ahead score
A six-play, 44-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 21-yard pitch and catch from Killeen senior quarterback Kenneth Arnold to sophomore receiver Montego Muckelvaney and two-point conversion run by Arnold put Killeen up 14-7.
The Roos added to their lead on their next possession after another Bulldawg turnover.
After senior defensive end Julian Brandon fell on a loose ball at the Copperas Cove 24-yard line, junior kicker Hector Velasquez made a 36-yard field goal for the 10-poin Killeen advantage.
A huge 65-yard touchdown run by junior Kylan Herrera and extra point by Zach Samarripi pulled the Dawgs within a field goal, 17-14.
“My teammates were telling me we have to pick up the momentum so I decided to step up as a leader and the (offensive) line stepped up too,” said Herrera. “We knew we had to get in the end zone and that’s what we did.
“We came out kind of slow and I knew we had to pick up the intensity so everyone went out and fought on that play.”
The Roos put together a 15-play drive to eat up nearly seven minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters. The Bulldawgs were able to force a turnover on downs on their six-yard line setting up one last opportunity to take the lead.
It looked like the Dawgs might just do that, too, when runs by Ezekiel Jordan and Herrera, along with a 24-yard completion from Garner to Ra’shaun Henry pushed Cove to the Killeen 18-yard line.
The Roos defense again stepped up to the challenge, stopping Herrera on three-straight runs to force a 4th and 7 from the 15. A pass from Garner to junior Josh Canete was just out of reach and the Roos would finish the game in the victory formation to move to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in District 12-6A play.
“I thought we would score,” said Welch. “We were just inches away. They are critical plays and you have to convert on every one of them when you’re playing a good defense and Killeen is a good defense. You almost had to play perfect and we were, but we had a few little slips and got behind.”
The Dawgs had an opportunity to go for the tie with a field goal, but due to the kicking woes of late, Welch elected to go for the win.
“I am a little shell-shocked with the kicking game,” said Welch. “Normally I would have probably kicked the field goal, but we have some new kickers that I’m trying to get in the groove. You hate to just throw them out there. Sometimes you can ruin a kid by putting too much pressure on them. We had a new kicker (Zach Samarripi) come in tonight and make both extra points.”
The Dawgs fall to 0-5 for the first time in head coach Jack Welch’s 22 years as head coach.
“Very seldom do we get in the situation we’re in right now with the record we have,” said Welch. “As a matter of fact, it has never been that way. Sometimes things happen. You have to live with it and keep going.
“The biggest thing you can’t do when you’re going through something like we are right now is get our heads down because we’re playing good. We’ve made great improvements from the first of the year to right now. I don’t like to lose but I’m very proud of our football team.”
Herrera led the Dawgs attack with 130 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and Lealiiee added 99 yards on 16 totes.
Jamaal King led the attack for Killeen with 147 yards on 29 carries. Arnold added 40 yards on 17 carries and was 5 for 8 for 66 yards and a score through the air.
The Dawgs look to get in the win column on Friday when they host the Belton Tigers.
“We just have to stay focused mentally,” said Herrera. “I think some of us came out and underestimated (Killeen) and that’s what really hurt us. We didn’t come out full speed like we did against Schertz Clemens. I think we really need to step it up and mentally just be strong.”