BY BOB WRIGHT
COPPERAS COVE – The Bulldawgs of Copperas Cove had kicked a field goal to go ahead with one second remaining in the game.
The Cove wins, right?
A&M Consolidated’s Tigers received the ensuing kickoff. The Cove wanted to make sure the Tigers couldn’t possibly return the kickoff on a squib kick. Consolidated somehow came out of a seemingly insurmountable pile of humanity, and what transpired with time already expired virtually defied description.
Wild, wild wild!! Four Tigers got their hands on the ball, began pitching off, short passing and lateraling the ball. First to make a touch on ye olde football was Luke Benden. Next to make a touch was Brandon Jackson. Then enter the name of Daniel Zivney, kicker/receiver. Zivney pitched to Derrick Dick, one fantastic speed merchant who was heading to his left. His Tiger teammates began to form a wall along the west sidelines.
As Consol fans began to go ballistic, Dick turned on the afterburners, tightroped down the sideline and didn’t stop until he had crossed the north goal line, 60 yards later. There were no flags on the play. A&M Consolidated had won 44-41. No extra point was needed, as the Tigers had won it some 20 seconds past the end of regulation.
What a finish in a wild game, as the Tigers of Coach David Raffield started the season with a victory over another good Copperas Cove team.
Consol had gotten off to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, bidding to make it a runaway. Cove then began to find its scoring range and almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a 27-point production the fourth quarter. It was deadlocked 38-38 before Jayson Stanley drilled a 25-yard field goal, putting the Cove ahead 41-38 with one second left in the game. Afterward came the final hurrah for Consolidated who had that one last great “Tiger in the tank” to begin the season in glowing fashion while providing some shenanigans for the final score and thus heartbreak for Bulldawg fans who had packed the east stands.
Tiger fans also turned out with a large crowd to support their Friday Night Heroes.
Both quarterbacks – Gus (also known as Kobe) Miller for Consol and Manny Harris for the Bulldawgs – both had prolific nights in the passing lanes. Miller, making his first start for the Tigers, pulled the trigger on 34 occasions while connecting on 26. He directed an attack that registered 34 first downs. Harris lofted the ball 47 times, completing 31. Copperas Cove notched 29 first downs.
Consolidated made two great defensive stands when Copperas Cove moved twice into the red zone. Defensive back Quin Haynes played a stellar game in the secondary, and picked a pass early in the second period.
Another turnover gem came by the Tigers in the first quarter. Riley Garner recovered after D.J. Jackson stripped the ball from a Cove runner on the Bulldawgs’ initial possession of the game.
Consol won the toss and elected to receive. That was a good move as the Tigers used their excellent speed to advantage in moving downfield early to get the lead. Hard-running and quick Brandon Jackson scored first by sliding over his right tackle from the two, culminating a 62-yard, seven-play march at the 9:11 mark. The quick-moving drive required only two minutes and 49 seconds. Daniel Zivney, who was perfect for his his evening’s work as kicker, booted the extra point, and the Tigers were off to the races before having to make that miraculous and almost unbelievable last-play comeback for the victory.
Defensively, the Tigers were spearheaded by D.J. Jackson, K.J. Dukes, Clint Hollis, Ryan Bevans, Quin Haynes, Riley Garner and Shermin Wilder.
After Brandon Jackson’s touchdown, Zivney made it 10-0 with a 44-yard field goal.
Miller drilled a scoring pass of nine yards to Kerry Thomas, to make it 16-0. Zivney hit the point, capping the 71-yard drive that needed 10 plays.
Miller’s scoring pass to Cory Dukes ended another scoring drive, which took 55 seconds from time of possession with three plays early in the third period.
Brandon Jackson scored again, this time on a 25-yard burst, polishing off a 75-yard drive in four plays in the final period.
Miller passed nine yards to Corey Dukes for another Consol score late, ending a 55-yard drive in four plays.