Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooper wins season opener 40-21!

Whatever doubts Cooper fans might have had about their new quarterback were put to rest in the season opener.

Clayton Nicholas, a guy who hadn’t started a game since eighth grade, threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars surged past the Wichita Falls Rider Raiders 40-21 on Friday at Shotwell Stadium.

“I couldn’t have asked any more out of him for the first game,” Cooper coach Mike Spradlin said. “He did a tremendous job of executing our offense and making good decisions.”

Nicholas, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior, completed 18-of-28 passes. He threw one interception.

“We all played well,” Nicholas said. “Our defense was outstanding, and our offensive line helped me throw the ball around, gave me time to find the receivers. I thought it was a good night for all of us.”

Nicholas got plenty of help from his teammates. Alford Cooper amassed 178 total yards of offense. The senior running back ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns and caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

“They got Eric Dickerson over there,” Rider coach Jim Garfield said about Alford Cooper. “He’s a stud.”

Khole Jackson also had a big night, catching four passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, Cooper rolled up 571 yards of total offense.

“I’m so proud of Al and our skilled guys,” Spradlin said. “Khole had a big night, and Khaeer (Sonnier) caught the ball well. Clay did a great job. But those five guys we have up front are pretty special right now. They’re the guys making that happen.”

Rider hung tough with Cooper until the Coogs outscored the Raiders 13-0 in the fourth quarter.

In fact, Rider cut Cooper’s lead to six on Deron Royster’s one-yard touchdown run with one second left in the third quarter.

But Alford Cooper ripped off an 18-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the game, and Davon Riddick capped the night with a 40-yard TD run. Riddick finished with a game-high 109 yards rushing on 13 carries.

“We were going good, but things happened, and it didn’t go our way,” Garfield said.

Rider got off to a good start as Tevin Aldridge went 83 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage. The Raiders went for two and failed.

Cooper’s first possession came to an end when Tyler Weir picked off Nicholas at the 21-yard line, setting up the Raiders at their own 25. But a bad snap cost Rider 20 yards, and the Raiders were forced to punt. Cooper ended up with great field position after the punt, thanks in part to a 15-yard penalty on Rider, giving the Coogs the ball at the Rider 14.

Three plays later, Alford Cooper scored from five yards out with 6:39 left in the opening quarter.

Rider answered with a 34-yard field goal by Connor Nutt less than two minutes later.

Cooper got its first big play later in the half, as Nicholas threw his first career varsity touchdown pass — a 76-yarder to Jackson.

Rider retook the lead on Malcolm Carter’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Graham McGregor less than a minute later, putting the Raiders up 15-14.

However, Cooper put together a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive for a 21-15 lead — a score that would hold up at the half. Nicholas capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to John Patrick.

Cooper increased its lead to 34-21 on Nicholas’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Alford Cooper early in the third quarter. Rider closed the gap on Royster’s 1-yard touchdown run.

But the Coogs would put the game away in the final quarter.

“Cooper is a great football team, and they kept the ball away from us,” Garfield said.

Rider 9 6 6 0—21

Cooper 7 14 6 13—40

First Quarter

RID — Tevin Aldridge 83 run (pass failed), 11:41

CHS — Alford Cooper 5 run (Justin Lehr kick), 6:39

RID — Connor Nutt 34 FG, 4:55

Second Quarter

CHS — Khole Jackson 76 pass from Clayton Nicholas (Lehr kick), 8:21

RID — Graham McGregor 26 pass from Malcom Carter (run failed), 7:18

CHS — John Patrick 11 pass from Nicholas (Lehr kick), 2:14

Third Quarter

CHS — Cooper 10 pass from Nicholas (kick blocked), 10:00

RID — Deron Royster 1 run (pass failed), :01

Fourth Quarter

CHS — Cooper 18 run (Lehr kick), 8:11

CHS — Davon Riddick 40 run (kick failed), 5:12

Abilene Reporter Telegram....thanks, Richard!

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