Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cooper 56 - Midland Lee 52...whew! Article by Joey Richards

MIDLAND — It’s only appropriate Cooper should celebrate its return to the Little Southwest Conference with some fireworks.

And, boy, were there fireworks Friday night at Grande Communications Stadium.

Clayton Nicholas threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Khaeer Sonnier with 24 seconds left in the game to lift the Cougars to a 56-52 victory over the Midland Lee Rebels in a thrilling District 3-5A opener.

The touchdown — Cooper’s third in the final 6:10 to rally from a 10-point deficit preserved the Coogs’ unbeaten record and gave them a joyous return to the Little Southwest Conference after spending two years in Class 4A.

“That’s crazy. That’s nuts,” Cooper coach Mike Spradlin said. “I didn’t expect that. I knew it was going to be a slobberknocker but that may have been a little more slobbin’ than I thought was going to happen.”

Sonnier’s catch capped a wild finish to a wild game. Lee (5-1) led 45-35 after Miles Vincent’s 38-yard field goal with 9:57 left in the game followed a failed Cooper onside kick.

But the Coogs (6-0) answered with touchdown runs by Alford Cooper and Davon Riddick to take a 48-45 lead. Cooper ripped off a 24-yarder on a 4th-and-3 play to make it a three-point game, then Riddick slipped away for a 47-yarder for Cooper’s first lead of the second half. Only 3:05 remained.

Time enough for the Rebels to take the lead right back. Adrian Horton threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Corey McPherson with 1:14 to play. It was McPherson’s 10th catch of the night for 136 total yards.

But it wouldn’t be enough. Nicholas needed only three plays to cover 78 yards for the game-winning score. He hit Sonnier just outside the end zone, and Sonnier streaked in for the touchdown. It was Nicholas’ third-straight completion the drive and 11th straight overall.

“It felt real great, about the best feeling I’ve had in my life,” Sonnier said about the catch. “I can’t even talk about it. I’m so happy we won.”

Nicholas, who completed 23-of-29 passes for 368 yards, wasn’t surprised to see Sonnier haul in the pass Nichlolas’ second touchdown pass of the night.

“I knew that Khaeer would catch a ball if I put it up in the air for him,” he said. “It all comes down to what the safety did. He took the wrong guy, so I threw it to the other one.”

The final drive was reminiscent of Cooper’s game-winning drive in the final 1:32 against Austin Westlake, and Nicholas said that was on the team’s mind after Lee had retaken the lead.

“Everybody on the sidelines was saying, ‘We’ve got this. We did it against Westlake. We can do it against them,’” he said.

Cooper rolled up 651 yards of total offense. Riddick had 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 10 carries, and Alford Cooper had 115 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries.

The Coogs also had two receivers with more than 100 yards. Khole Jackson had seven catches for 126 yards, and Derek Footer had eight catches for 116 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown catch early in the second half.

Lee had 407 yards of total offense. Horton completed 21-of-30 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

Cooper had a 14-0 lead before Lee could even get a first down, as Alford Cooper ran for a touchdowns of 16 and six yards on the Coogs’ first two possessions.

However, Lee scored 35 points in the second quarter, including 21 unanswered, to take 35-28 halftime lead after Riddick and Jackson each had touchdown runs for Cooper, including a 76-yarder by Riddick.
Photos and Article - Abilene Reporter News


  1. Wow! What a game! Wished I'd been there! Undefeated.....still.....what an accomplishment! I love reading about your team! Football -- nothing else compares! I'm proud of those boys that I've never met, I can just feel the excitement in the air! GO COUGARS!!!

  2. Oh, Lisa! That's so sweet! That a Football Mom from Mississippi, who's never laid eyes on these guys could adopt them... just like that! Thank you, Lisa for feeling the importance and their 'underdog determination!! Stay tuned. They're just getting warmed up!