KILLEEN — Based on scores alone, Temple has rolled through District 12-6A. Putting aside a dramatic 10-point win over Harker Heights, the Wildcats’ other four league wins entering Friday night’s game against Killeen were decided by an average margin of 38 points.
Head coach Scott Stewart routinely advises against resting on ones’ laurels. The Kangaroos, on occasion, provided sturdy examples as to why inside Leo Buckley Stadium.
The Wildcats (7-2, 6-0), though, navigated the adversity by dipping into what has put them on the brink of a second consecutive outright district title in the first place.
Samari Howard’s 10-yard touchdown run with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter tied him with former running back Lache Seastrunk for the program’s career record for points and put the finishing touch on Temple’s 44-6 triumph over the Kangaroos that also included four TD tosses from quarterback Reese Rumfield and another stingy defensive performance.
“We needed this experience. The last several weeks since Heights, it’s kind of been come out, impose your will, move the ball, score a lot of points early and just Cadillac through. I told them after the game I said it’s easy when things are going well. When things aren’t like you planned, to me that’s a life lesson. When things aren’t going exactly like you want them to, what are you going to do then?” said Stewart, whose team didn’t score until the 2:53 mark of the first quarter yet still posted 421 yards of offense, led 20-0 at halftime and clinched at least a share of the district championship with one game to go.
“Sometimes you just have to grind it out.”
Jalen Robinson — who played most of the fourth quarter after Howard had collected 151 of his game-high 161 yards through three frames — reeled off a 32-yard run to the Killeen 10-yard line. Howard was re-inserted and promptly bulled his way into the end zone for the record-tying TD.
“I’m just proud of the guys. (Robinson) was toting the ball when I came out and I’m about to go hug him,” Howard said. “I have a lot of work to do but it feels great being recognized as one of the top guys.”
Rumfield completed 10 of 18 passes for 171 yards, including scoring tosses of 19 and 71 yards to Devan Williams, 32 yards to KeAndre Smith and 28 yards to Tr’Darius Taylor. Robinson had a 38-yard TD among 99 yards rushing.
Temple’s defense, which has 21 takeaways in district, limited the Kangaroos’ multi-faceted, misdirection rushing attack to 93 yards on 44 carries. Quarterback Roderick Norman’s 1-yard keeper in the third quarter accounted for Killeen’s only points as it dropped to 2-7 overall and 0-6 in 12-6A.
“We just started off slow. Every time we play, we have to come in with the mindset that they are a team that wants to beat us,” Williams said. “Coach just gave us a little pep talk, told us to keep our heads together and do our roles, do our jobs, and that’s what we did.”
Temple came up empty on four of its seven first-half possessions. The other three, though, were rather productive.
Linebacker Taurean York’s sack on third down led to a short 13-yard punt that left the Wildcats already in striking distance at the Roos 37.
Temple was on the board five plays later when Williams caught a pass at the 10, pivoted outside to leave his defender behind and finished the 19-yard score.
Smith slipped wide open up the seam and adjusted to a back-shoulder throw from Rumfield for a 32-yard TD connection at 10:05 of the second quarter that boosted the lead to 13-0.
Taylor went into tip-toe mode in the back of the end zone and cradled a 28-yard pass from Rumfield for a 20-0 advantage 41 seconds before the break, when the important tweaks were made.
“We were kind of lackadaisical. You could see it. We were lackadaisical when we came out,” Howard said. “But, we fixed it (in the locker room). He chewed us out. I don’t know what it is. Temple kids. When we get chewed out, we play harder.”
TEMPLE 44, KILLEEN 6
Temple 6 14 10 14 — 44
Killeen 0 0 6 0 — 6
Tem — Devan Williams 19 pass from Reese Rumfield (pass failed)
Tem — KeAndre Smith 32 pass from Rumfield (Danis Bajric kick)
Tem — Tr’Darius Taylor 28 pass from Rumfield (Bajric kick)
Kil — Roderick Norman 1 run (kick blocked)
Tem — Jalen Robinson 38 run (Bajric kick)
Tem — Williams 71 pass from Rumfield (Bajric kick)
Tem — Samari Howard 10 run (Bajric kick)
First downs 15 15
Rushes-yards 36-250 44-93
Passing yards 171 127
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-18-0 10-15-0
Punts-average 2-44.5 5-25
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-2
Penalties-yards 7-65 8-70
RUSHING — Temple: Howard 22-161, Robinson 6-99, Tavaris Sullivan 4-7, Mikal Harrison-Pilot 1-2, Rumfield 3-(-19); Killeen: Emory Arthur 9-37, De’Van’Te Johnson 11-36, Warren Fleming 1-22, Jacobia Thomas 1-3, Cade Searcy 2-(-7), Norman 20-2.
PASSING — Temple: Rumfield 10-18-0-171; Killeen: Norman 9-14-0-106, Searcy 1-1-0-21.
RECEIVING — Temple: Williams 3-98, Harrison-Pilot 5-11, Taylor 1-28, Smith 1-32; Killeen: Thomas 4-81, Searcy 2-21, Albert Powell 2-7, Johnson 1-12, Gregory Gant 1-6.