The Dawg Pound: My Site News

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Saturday, September 25

By JOHN EUBANKS

Copperas Cove Leader-Press

 

BELTON – Copperas Cove had a 28-6 third-quarter lead against Belton evaporate to 28-21 early in the fourth before taking control in the last half of the quarter.

Two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a span of just over three minutes made the difference in the Dawgs’ 41-21 district-opening win over the Tigers at Tiger Stadium Friday night.

Cove, ranked 12th in the AP Class 5A poll, improves to 4-0 overall, 1-0 in District 12-5A, with Temple coming to Cove next Friday. Belton, the preseason district favorite, drops to 0-4 and 0-1.

Cove coach Jack Welch praised both the Tigers and their coach Rodney Southern, Welch’s former defensive coordinator at Cove who is now 0-3 against his old boss since taking over at Belton four years ago.

“These guys had a tough start (to the season) but they played a great game tonight,” Welch said of the Tigers. “And you don’t find a better coach around here than Rodney Southern.”

Asked what his thoughts were when Belton cut it to 28-21, Welch joked and laughed, then added, “Belton has the kind of offense you can’t ease up on. These guys are deadly. So you’ve got to stay on top of it. We got into a little lull in the third quarter, but came back and that’s a tribute to the offensive line.

Leading 21-3 at halftime and 21-6 with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Cove kicked wide on a 37-yard field goal attempt by Eli Kuhns with 7:26 left in the quarter. But two plays later, Cove’s Johntez Young recovered a fumbled shotgun snap by quarterback David Ash at the Tigers’ 24. Two plays later elusive quarterback Orlando Thomas scored from 16 yards out. He finished with a game-high 179 yards rushing on 21 carries. He was only 1 of 4 passing for two yards, a tipped pass that center Daquon Bratcher, a tight end last season, snagged.

Kuhns’ extra point made it 28-6 with 6:06 left in the third, and it appeared that Belton – which entered the game allowing an average of 54 points a game -- was in danger of being routed for the third straight week.

But the Tigers cut it to 28-14 by the end of the third and made it 28-21 with 9:33 left to play. Cove answered on the ensuing drive, however, marching 61 yards in six plays – all on the ground – to go back up 35-21 with 7:26 remaining.

Belton tried to answer, going from its 32 to Cove’s 26 in four plays. But on third and 10, David Ash was sacked by Josh Lyons for a 7-yard loss to the 33. Ash then threw incomplete on fourth and 17 with 5:35 remaining. He finished 18 of 37 for 223 yards.

Cove took just over a minute to score again, as Matt Hall capped a three-play, 67-yard drive with a 12-yard run. The extra-point attempt never got off, after an odd –looking snap, capping the scoring at 41-21 with 4:19 remaining.

“Orlando broke the game open at the end and Brandon Hamilton (87 yards on 18 carries) ran hard,” Welch said. “There were gaping holes and that’s a tribute to the offensive line.”

Trailing 21-3 at halftime, Belton cut it to 21-6 with a 41-yard Tyler Pate field goal on the Tigers’ first possession, after they recovered an onside kick to start the half. Pate’s field goal hit the crossbar before going over with 9:58 left in the third.

Cove missed wide left on its next drive, the aforementioned 37-yard attempt, before going up 28-6 three plays later.

COVE LEADS 21-3 AT HALFTIME

Cove led 21-3 at halftime, scoring on its first possession and twice more in the first four minutes of the second quarter.

After winning the toss and electing to defer to the second half, Cove kicked off to Adrian Henderson who took it two yards deep in the end zone. But he fumbled inside the 10 and Darius McClinton recovered at the 8 four seconds into the game.

Three plays later, running back Brandon Hamilton dove over the middle of the line from a yard out for the touchdown. Eli Kuhns’ kick made it 7-0 with 10:31 on the clock.

Belton then began its longest drive of the half, starting at its 26 and going to the Cove 15 in 10 penalty-free plays. But two plays later on fourth and 8 from the 15, Tyler Pate kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3 with 5:40 showing.

Belton gained four of its eight first-half first downs on the drive, converting a third-and-8 at the 28 with an 11-yard pass to the 17.

Cove began its second drive at its 45 following William Randolph’s 20-yard return of a pooch kick. But four plays later on fourth and 1 from the 31, quarterback Orlando Thomas was held just inches shy of a first down on keeper right.

Belton went four and out, setting up Cove’s second scoring drive. Starting from their 32, the Dawgs began a 12-play, 68-yard drive capped by Randolph’s 4-yard run. Kuhns’ kick made it 14-3 with 9:11 left in the second quarter. Cove converted three third downs during the drive, including a third and 13 from the Belton 36 with a Randolph 20-yard run.

Belton went four and out again, leading to a David Ash 44-yard punt that Randolph returned 78 yards for a touchdown around the right side. Kuhns’ kick made it 21-3 with 8:04 left in the first half.

Belton gained two first downs on its next drive, before bogging down at the Cove 48 when Ash threw incomplete – an apparent dropped pass -- on a fake punt. Cove’s ensuing drive would lead to its only punt of the half, two plays after center Daquon Bratcher caught an apparent tipped pass on third and 23 from the Cove 35 for more than 15 yards. But after the officials conferred, and a flag was thrown, Cove was given a 2-yard gain – Bratcher getting a 2-yard reception from this reporter – and had third and 21. After Ryen King threw incomplete downfield to Thomas, Cove got off a 29-yard punt.

Belton started at its 34 with 1:22 and marched to the Cove 30, where four straight incompletions led to a 47-yard fake field goal that lost the kicker 14 yards.

Belton outgained Cove 116-95 in total yardage and 8-5 in first downs in the first half.

 

 



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