STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
– COPPERAS COVE – It was a classic showdown Friday night at Copperas Cove between the Bulldawgs and the A&M Consolidated Tigers, the kind of game which epitomized Texas High School football.
The Harris Rating System had it as its High Headliner of the Week, and Tigers and Bulldawgs, two hefties of District 12-5A didn’t disappoint the near-capacity crowd on the Cove turf.
Battling it out until the very end, it was Copperas Cove which held on with its tremendous speed to emerge with a 23-21 win for district supremacy. For longtime Copperas Cove coach, Jack Welch, it avenged a defeat at the hand of the Tigers a year ago, while the Bulldawgs upped their season record to 7-1 and 5-0 in the district race.
For Coach David Raffield’s Tigers, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Consol is on the verge of a playoff berth which could come next Friday at home against Harker Heights. The Cove will host Killeen Shoemaker this coming Friday.
Consolidated is 4-4 for the season while owning a 4-1 district mark.
Scoring for the Tigers were Quinton White on runs of one and 30 yards, and quarterback Weston Garner, on a one-yard run. Dillon Moore booted three of three extra points for Consol.
Cove got a 47-yard field goal from Eli Kuhns, who also kicked two extra points and missed on another field goal when the ball hit the left goalpost. Late in the game, Scoring touchdowns for the Bulldawgs were Orlando Thomas, super quick QB, on a 23-yard run and one of 12 yards, and Rashaun Gibson, who hauled in a 21-yard pass from Thomas.
The ‘Dawgs ended with over 350 yards in total offense, while the Tigers amassed a similar number yardage output. Both teams each had 16 first downs.
Lots of the drama took place in the final few minutes of this classic struggle between two of the state’s more interesting clubs. Consol’s large defense came through with several sacks on Thomas, mostly before the speedster could get out of the starting blocks to sweep around end, something he has done with amazing regularity this season. Brandon Hamilton, who came into the game with about 1,100 yards rushing, was held in check pretty well by Consol defenders, although it was Thomas and Hamilton which ate up precious time as Consol used its timesout to get a final chance at victory.
Once that came, there were seconds left, with the Bulldawgs driving the final nail in the coffin with an interception as time expired.
Consol defenders who got in some telling licks on the Copperas Cove offense included Adriel Grant, Josue Ordonez, David Levias, Brett Mahnke, Christian LaCouture, Marshall Strain and J.J. Bynum.
In the third quarter, Darasis Nutall’s 55-yard run set the ball on the Cove one, and providing the catalyst for a one-yard scoring run by Garner, which gave Consol its first lead at 21-20.
Kuhn came back to kick a 24-yard field goal, which proved to be the deciding points.