Photos by Ikechukwu Dike, courtesy of HubCityPreps.com
LUBBOCK — The No. 10 Cooper Cougars gained a big leg up in the District 2-5A Division I race Friday, outscoring preseason league favorite Lubbock Coronado 31-0 in the second half of a 52-24 victory at Lowrey Field.
Coach Aaron Roan’s squad pounded out 370 yards rushing on their way to 521 total yards, while pitching a second-half shutout against an explosive Mustang offense.
The win, Cooper’s third in a row by at least three touchdowns, kept the Coogs undefeated on the season at 6-0 and improved their district record to 2-0.
“Going into halftime, Coronado was doing a good job offensively, but our defense was able to get a stop right before half,” Roan said. “I think that kind of helped propel us defensively going into the second half. That gave us some confidence on that side of the ball, and they did a good job in the second half.
“And offensively, we were real pleased with the way we executed and worked together to move the football and put points on the board. I was just really pleased with the way these kids performed overall as a team.”
After trailing Lubbock Monterey in the early stages of a 70-49 win last week, Cooper was forced to rally once again on Friday. But as was the case in their victory over the Plainsmen, when they used a 42-point second quarter to break open a tie game, the Coogs responded impressively to the adversity.
Trailing 14-7 after a quarter and 24-21 at halftime, Cooper took control with a 17-0 run through the third period before tacking two more touchdowns onto its lead in the fourth.
A punishing running game was responsible for the bulk of the Coogs’ offensive success as both Noah Garcia (30-262, 4 TDs) and Jessus Menjivar (12-110, 2 TDs) topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive game and the third time this season overall.
Aidan Thompson provided a solid complement in the passing game, finishing 10 of 17 for an efficient 151 yards with one interception.
“I think when we can run the football, it opens up some other things ,and we did a good job of staying balanced,” Roan said. “Our offensive line, tight end and backs, all those guys, did a good job of executing our run game and did a good job in pass (protection). It was just a really good effort collectively all the way across the board.”
On the other side of the football, Cooper surrendered 340 yards to the Coronado passing game, but the Coogs picked off quarterback Sawyer Robertson twice and limited the Mustangs to just 23 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Senior cornerback Dylon Davis had both interceptions, returning the second 81 yards for a touchdown to put Cooper up three touchdowns early in the fourth the fourth quarter. It was the second two-interception game of the season for Davis, who has picked off seven passes through the first six weeks of the season.
“We were able to get some pressure on the quarterback and get a couple of turnovers, and it was really good for our offense to be able to take those and turn them into points,” Roan said. “And we had a big fourth-down stop early in the second half that I thought was really big for us to keep momentum on our side.”
The Coogs will now bring their undefeated record back to Abilene for a matchup next week with Amarillo Palo Duro, before wrapping up the regular season with district games against Amarillo Caprock (Oct. 11), Lubbock High (Oct. 18) and Amarillo High (Nov. 8).
Roan is hoping to see the same focus in those games he saw from his team this past week.
“We wanted to be 1-0 this week. That was our goal, and we were able to come out and do it,” he said. “Wins aren’t easy to come by. We’ve been doing it for a while, and we’ll go ahead and enjoy it. But I’ve been real pleased with the way they’ve been able to stay focused and understand that we need to continue to get better.
“That’s our goal, to get better every chance we get, and our kids have been able to buy into that and go out and do it.”
DISTRICT 2-5A DIVISION I
COOPER 52, LUBBOCK CORONADO 24
COR — Eli Martinez 11 pass from Sawyer Robertson (Cooper Hamilton kick)
COO — Noah Garcia 5 run (Trey Castillo kick)
COR — Will Boyles 39 pass from Robertson (Hamilton kick)
COO — Garcia 10 run (Castillo kick)
COR — Hamilton 28 FG
COR — Cory Ferriera 69 pass from Robertson (Hamilton kick)
COO — Garcia 3 run (Castillo kick)
COO — Castillo 27 FG
COO — Jesus Menjivar 20 run (Castillo kick)
COO — Menjivar 7 run (Castillo kick)
COO — Dylon Davis 81 interception return (Castillo kick)
COO — Garcia 21 run (Castillo kick)
RUSHING — Cooper, Noah Garcia 30-262, Jesus Menjivar 12-110, Team 1-(-2). Coronado, Kaleb Manuel 11-40, Sawyer Robertson 5-(-17).
PASSING — Cooper, Aidan Thompson 10-17-1—151. Coronado, Sawyer Robertson 22-38-2—340.
RECEIVING — Cooper, Daelin Campos 4-43, Braiden Hill 3-37, Corbin Russell 1-47, Izaiah Clark 1-14, Marcus Gomez 1-10. Coronado, Jon Hernandez 6-95, Will Boyles 5-69, Eli Martinez 5-40, Cory Ferriera 4-127, Kaleb Manuel 1-5, Zaylon Brown 1-4.
RECORDS — Cooper 6-0, 2-0; Lubbock Coronado 3-3, 1-1.