For the second consecutive week, the Abilene High football team needed to rally in the second half for a victory. This time, it was against crosstown rival Cooper.
Trailing 13-3 at halftime, the Eagles outscored the Cougars 17-0 over the final two quarters, taking their first lead of the game late in the third quarter and holding on in the fourth for a 20-13 win Friday at Shotwell Stadium.
“We knew exactly what we would get from them,” Abilene High coach Del Van Cox said. “In this game, you can throw out records, you can throw out who’s hurt and who’s not hurt. You saw how hard both teams played, especially them in the first half and then our kids responded and played very well in the second half.
“But you can throw all records out, as you can tell. It’s going to be a battle any time you play the Cooper Cougars.”
Cooper, which fell to 0-3 with the loss, outgained AHS 169-123 in the first half and had the only two touchdowns before halftime. Both came on passes from Aidan Thompson to Daelin Campos — the first a 4-yard shovel pass and the second a 12-yard strike to the back of the end zone.
Between those, Abilene High got its only points of the first half, the first of two 25-yard field goals from Ray Mouloungui.
That set up the second half, which was all Eagles.
“Our kids, they were disappointed at halftime in the way that we had played because they knew we had not played our best,” Cox said. “But I was really proud of the way we responded, and it was a great win for us.”
AHS (2-1) needed just a minute and 20 seconds to score its first touchdown of the third quarter, a 47-yard strike from Kallin Sipe to Reese Pettijohn. And the Eagles took their first lead of the game two possessions later, when Sipe hit Michael Bartlett from 12 yards out following consecutive completions of 20-plus yards to Pettijohn and Clay Cox.
Cooper, which had a promising drive end with a fumble earlier in the half, threatened to answer on its next possession, but Mason Reynolds couldn’t hang onto a pass from Thompson on fourth and 1 from the AHS 41.
The Coogs had one last chance at a rally and even forced a punt with just over a minute to play, but a roughing the punter penalty gave AHS a first down, allowing the Eagles to kill the clock.
Abilene High gained 219 of its 342 total yards in the second half, with 177 of those coming through the air. Sipe finished 12 of 22 for 253 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Clay Cox was his favorite target, finishing with five catches for 131 yards, while Pettijohn caught three passes for 80 yards.
Cooper, meanwhile, finished the game with 259 total yards — 111 rushing and 148 passing. Thompson was 18 of 34 for 148 yards and two scores without throwing an interception. Campos caught nine of those balls for 62 yards, while Reynolds had five catches for 51 yards.
Cooper’s Noah Garcia was the game’s leading rusher, tallying 55 yards on just six carries, but the last of those resulted in a fumble.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played, honestly,” Cooper coach Aaron Roan said. “I thought we kind of came together and played the most complete game that we’ve played all season, and that’s all we can ask them to do. We challenged them, and there’s things that we can continue to work on and improve — we’re not where we need to be. But overall, as a team effort, I thought that we stepped it up and they did some really good things (Friday).
“(Abilene High is) a good football team. They do a great job over there, and we knew that. They’re a good football team, but I was proud of the way our kids played tonight.”
Both Abilene High and Cooper are back at Shotwell Stadium next week. The Eagles host Midland High for homecoming on Friday, a night after Cooper welcomes Wylie for the first meeting between those schools.
ABILENE HIGH 20, COOPER 13
COO — Daelin Campos 4 pass from Aidan Thompson (kick failed), 4:39
AHS — Ray Mouloungui 25 FG, 2:34
COO — Campos 12 pass from Thompson (Michael Rangel point), 1:11
AHS — Reese Pettijohn 47 pass from Kallin Sipe (Mouloungui kick), 10:40
AHS — Michael Bartlett 12 pass from Sipe (Mouloungui kick), 0:51
AHS — Ray Mouloungui 25 FG, 4:21
RUSHING — Cooper, Noah Garcia 6-55, Nic Bailey 7-32, Jessus Menjivar 4-14, Isaiah Boutte 1-11, Daelin Campos 2-3, Mason Reynolds 1-(-4). Abilene High, Esai Jaques 10-31, Phonzo Dotson 8-30, Kallin Sipe 9-26, Nathan Embila 5-12, Team 2-(-10).
PASSING — Cooper, Aidan Thompson 18-34-0—148, Mason Reynolds 0-0-0—0. Abilene High, Kallin Sipe 12-22-0—253.
RECEIVING — Cooper, Daelin Campos 9-62, Mason Reynolds 5-51, Jessus Menjivar 2-14, Braiden Hill 1-12, Izaiah Clark 1-9. Abilene High, Clay Cox 5-131, Reese Pettijohn 3-80, Damion Enriquez 3-30, Michael Bartlett 1-12.
RECORDS — Cooper 0-3, Abilene High 2-1.