The A&M Consolidated Tigers didn’t have the magic potion in their camp Friday night to pull off a last-play victory like that wild and unbelievable finish last year at Copperas Cove. It was the finish that made national headlines and was toast of the town for weeks that followed.
That finish was a dream-come-true for the Tigers, but little they know the nightmare that was in store for ‘em last night. Try 62-38 for starters as Consol played for the second straight year at the storied old stadium in the Cove following UIL re-alignments in February.
The loss was a surprising and bitter gridiron pill to swallow for Coach David Raffield, his staff and their fourth-ranked Tigers who must put the loss behind them and prepare for next Friday night’s battle in Tiger Stadium, hosting Richmond Foster with a 7:30 kickoff.
The speedy Tigers met their match in the speed department in the District 12-6A Bulldawgs of Copperas Cove. Quarterback Manny Harris put on a virtual passing clinic. The senior, when he wasn’t hitting receivers with on-target aerials, he proved his running mettle while flawlessly directing the Cove attack against the District 18-5A Consolidated Tigers.
One game does not a season make, although it did point out that Consolidated must work out some chinks in the defensive armor in order to enjoy the lofty ratings which had been scripted for the Tigers, who would love nothing more than a repeat run at 10-3 when they advanced all the way to the quarterfinals before a 21-7 loss to Lake Travis.
Harris and his teammates used their speed and offensive finesse to amass a whopping 897 yards in total offense. Consol had enough total yardage – 463 – to win a game, IF the defense could have shut down the Cove offense long enough to get the upper hand for keeps. Consol did hold out the Cove at a few crucial junctures, although there simply were not enough of those defensive stops to make a big enough difference in the outcome. A couple of Tiger seniors – lineman Aaron Leventis and linebacker Riley Garner, along with junior linebacker Will Vaughn, had some good defensive moments.
Despite the youth and inexperience in the offensive line, the Tiger unit did show much promise for this season. Also showing much promise for the year is senior quarterback Mason Hickson, who stood tall in the pocket and bid to proficiently lead the Tigers to better things as the season progresses.
The speed merchants and Harris’ passing attack were enough to register 42 first downs against the Tiger D. He completed 30 passes in 43 attempts.
Each team scored on its first possession. In the first quarter, Daniel Zivney toed a 20-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 3-0. Zivney also made sure to keep that drive alive after apparently stalling with a fourth-down punt imminent. It wasn’t as imminent as it seemed when Zivney, back in kick formation, saw just enough daylight to his right and zipped eight yards for a first down to keep the drive alive.
The Cove went ahead 7-3 with 7:12 remaining in the opening quarter. The score came on a 29-yard aerial from Harris to Trey Powell, capping a 64-yard drive that needed five plays. Stanley booted the extra point.
Back came Consol with 6:48 left in the first period. Putting the lid on a 75-yard march, Hickson triggered a payoff pass to junior wide receiver Rodney Jernigan, the fastest of the Tigers and one of the state’s speddiest gridiron performers. Zivney’s kick made it 10-7, Tigers.
STORY BY BOB WRIGHT
Consol was its own worst enemy Friday evening, suffering from at least three dropped passes to wide-open receivers, and giving up its lone interception close in just before halftime.
Copperas Cove went ahead 14-10, then 21-10 in the opening quarter when Harris hit Powell on a 22-yarder at the 4:47 mark to complete a six-play, 70-yard drive, and Trent Canion barreled across the goal from the three with 2:09 to go. That one wrote finish to a 79-yard drive in half a dozen plays.
In the second quarter, the Tigers pulled to within 21-17 on a scoring toss of nine yards from Hickson to Zivney with 5:47 to go.
The Bulldawgs went ahead at halftime on a 30-yard field goal by Stanley with a minute and 41 seconds remaining, going in front 24-17.
In the third quarter, Michael Armentrout returned an interception 69 yards to put Consol in front 27-24.That came after Stanley nailed a 26-yard field goal. The Bulldawgs began getting the upper hand of the offensive chase in the third when Harris hit Devon Holkinstedt with a 21-yard strike.
Other Consol scores came on a 63-yard pass from Hickson to Derrick Dick and a 55-yard scoring toss with the same combination.
Other Cove scores came on a two-yard run by Harris up the middle, a 30-yard Harris to Canion pass and a two-yard run by Antonio Lilly.