Updated: 2 days ago
HAPPY HOMECOMING: Temple juniors Mikal Harrison-Pilot (7) and Taurean York celebrate after Harrison-Pilot's 21-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' 60-15 victory over Killeen Shoemaker on a homecoming Friday night at Wildcat Stadium. In the first half Harrison-Pilot scored on a 13-yard run and caught a 14-yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Reese Rumfield. York made a team-best 16 tackles. Coach Scott Stewart's District 12-6A-leading Temple team (6-2, 5-0) extended its winning streak to six games and clinched the Wildcats' ninth consecutive playoff berth. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
The Temple Wildcats had to dig deep against Killeen Shoemaker in 2019 and 2020, needing vital defensive stands and spirited comebacks to overtake the fast, talented Grey Wolves.
But when Temple and Shoemaker met again Friday night in another important District 12-6A clash, the game was played solely on the terms of the red-hot Wildcats.
Mikal Harrison-Pilot scored three touchdowns, Reese Rumfield threw three touchdown passes and Jaylon Jackson forced a fumble that Faylin Lee recovered for a TD right after halftime as surging Temple celebrated its homecoming by thoroughly outplaying Shoemaker for a 60-15 victory at Wildcat Stadium.
The first-place Wildcats won their sixth consecutive game, extended their 12-6A winning streak to 13 dating to 2019 and clinched their ninth straight playoff appearance. For Temple (6-2, 5-0), the complete performance can be attributed to the focused, make-it-happen attitude it brought in against Shoemaker (3-4, 2-3).
Coming off a 57-56 overtime loss to Harker Heights last week, the Grey Wolves of fifth-year head coach Toby Foreman sabotaged themselves by losing four fumbles against the opportunistic Wildcats.
“We outplayed them and outphysicaled them. They’re a fast team, but you put some hits on them and they’re going to stop and they’re going to fall back. That’s what we did, and we came out with the win,” said junior Harrison-Pilot, the versatile three-year starter who produced touchdown runs of 13 and 21 yards and caught a 14-yard scoring pass from sophomore quarterback Rumfield.
“We just take every game one by one. We want to go 1-0 each week, and we’ve done well. We’re just doing our job each game and practicing every day and working hard to get to this point.”
Seniors Samari Howard, Devan Williams, KeAndre Smith and Jalen Robinson scored one touchdown each and junior linebacker Taurean York made 16 tackles as Temple maintained a one-game lead over second-place Harker Heights (7-1, 4-1), which it rallied from a 21-0 deficit to defeat 44-34 on Oct. 1 at Wildcat Stadium.
With two district games remaining, the Wildcats will clinch at least a share of their third straight 12-6A championship with a win at last-place Killeen next Friday.
NO ESCAPING THE PRESSURE: Temple junior defensive end Jaylon Jackson (27) hits Killeen Shoemaker quarterback Omari Evans from behind on the Grey Wolves' 6-yard line early in the third quarter, causing the Penn State-committed senior to fumble. Senior linebacker Faylin Lee recovered the ball at the goal line for a touchdown as the Wildcats took a 32-7 lead on their way to a 60-15 victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium. It was one of four fumbles recovered by Temple, which has won its last 13 District 12-6A games dating to 2019. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
Temple sixth-year head coach Scott Stewart knew coming in that Shoemaker had speed to burn, paced by Penn State commitment Omari Evans at quarterback and Khamari Terrell at receiver and on kick returns. The Wildcats’ plan was to take away what the Grey Wolves do best, and Temple executed it well enough that the game didn’t come down to the wire, unlike the teams’ previous two classic battles.
“When you know who you’re dealing with, you’ve got to practice a certain way. We practiced different angles,” Stewart said. “We run our base schemes, but you’ve got to tweak it based on who you’re playing against, and I thought these kids did a great job of not letting them get out in third and fourth gear.
“I think (Evans) hit it twice tonight, and when he hits it, it’s scary. So my hat’s off to our coaches for a great gameplan and just being able to play with speed and make those angle adjustments and technique adjustments.”
After being limited to a combined 27 points in season-opening home losses to top-ranked Austin Westlake (8-0) and Magnolia West (8-0), Temple has exploded for 319 points – 53.2 per game – while ripping off six straight victories. The Wildcats produced 56, 50 and 60 points in their last three wins against Killeen Ellison, rival Belton and Shoemaker, respectively.
Stewart was adamant during his squad’s struggles early in this season that Temple “was going to blow the top off this thing,” but did he actually expect the Wildcats’ Josh Sadler-coordinated offense to come this far and generate so much scoring?
“Yeah. Yeah. I mean, all these people told us we didn’t know how to coach football anymore the first couple of weeks. So where are they at now?” Stewart said. “I’m so proud of our offensive staff. They try to take advantage of matchups and just the schemes that they do . . . I sit in on those meetings sometimes and they’re very knowledgeable and they do a great job.
“The amazing part is I’ve seen coaches who know all the football in the world, but these guys can teach young people. They can teach kids what they want and what they expect. My hat’s off to this entire coaching staff.”
On an evening when he was crowned homecoming king during Temple’s halftime festivities, senior running back Howard rushed for 121 yards with a 1-yard touchdown on 19 carries as the reigning 12-6A co-MVP reached the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the second straight season and surpassed 3,300 rushing yards for his career.
Howard entered the night with 298 points in his stellar three-year run, leaving the Air Force commitment 15 points from moving past Lache Seastrunk (312 points from 2007-09) as the all-time leading scorer in Temple program history. Howard followed his touchdown rush early in the second quarter with a 2-point run to reach 306 points, but he didn’t score again. He’ll need seven points against Killeen to break the record next Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium.
ROOM TO ROAM: Temple senior running back Samari Howard follows junior tackle Jeremiah Mungia (58) and other blockers during the Wildcats' 60-15 victory over Killeen Shoemaker on Friday night at Wildcat Stadium. Howard carried 19 times for 121 yards as he reached the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. He scored eight points on a touchdown and a 2-point conversion, pushing him to 306 career points. He needs seven more points to overtake Lache Seastrunk (312 points from 2007-09) as Temple's all-time leading scorer. Howard also was crowned homecoming king at halftime. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
After Temple won the coin toss and deferred its option to the second half, its defense immediately set the tone as Evans bobbled the first snap before the fleet-footed senior QB was swarmed by juniors Jackson and Zion Moore (11 tackles) for a 10-yard loss. Wildcats senior speedster Tr’Darius Taylor then returned the Grey Wolves’ punt for 62 yards along the right side to the 10-yard line 2 minutes into the game.
Temple was unable to cash it in for a touchdown but took a 3-0 lead on senior Danis Bajric’s 23-yard field goal.
Shoemaker drove to the Temple 30 on its ensuing possession, but Evans and running back Jamarius Stewart botched the zone-read handoff and senior end Eric Shorter pounced on the fumble, his latest big defensive play against the Grey Wolves. Shorter played key roles in fourth-down stands as the Wildcats rallied to beat Shoemaker 38-28 in 2019 and 27-24 last year following Harrison-Pilot's go-ahead 8-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes left.
Taylor deftly adjusted to Rumfield’s underthrown deep pass to make a sliding 38-yard reception, then Harrison-Pilot shifted from receiver to quarterback, ran off left tackle and bowled over a defender at the goal line to score a 13-yard touchdown. The first of Bajric’s seven extra points gave Temple a 10-0 lead with 2:46 remaining in the first quarter.
It was a similar look to the previous week, when the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Harrison-Pilot ran over and through a smaller would-be tackler near the goal line for a powerful TD.
“Yeah, I’m getting my old stuff out, like in my middle school days when I used to run on everybody. I’m like, ‘Let me do it again,’” said a smiling Harrison-Pilot, who rushed for 44 yards on six carries. “I feel confident running and now I’m just doing me.”
Evans and Shoemaker marched to Temple’s 34 on their next possession, but on fourth-and-2 multiple Wildcats defenders tackled the tall, fast Terrell – one of the nation’s premier 400-meter runners – for a 1-yard gain and a turnover on downs.
Runs of 22 and 10 yards by Howard, a pass interference penalty on Shoemaker and Rumfield’s 19-yard strike to a slanting Williams moved the Wildcats to the 1 before Howard bounced out to the left side and dashed in for his 48th career touchdown overall, four away from tying Seastrunk’s Temple record of 52 TDs. Howard played QB for the conversion and ran straight ahead for his fourth 2-point play this season, extending the advantage to 18-0 with 9:16 left until halftime.
The Wildcats defense nearly created a touchdown on Shoemaker’s next possession. From the Grey Wolves 28, senior tackle Tommy Torres put heavy pressure on the retreating Evans, causing the QB to lose the ball around the 5 before Jackson picked it up at the 2 and crashed into the end zone. However, the officials ruled that it was a forward pass by Evans and also intentional grounding. Temple still took advantage of the sequence, as Taylor’s weaving punt return set the Wildcats up at Shoemaker’s 25.
BLUE SWARM: Junior safety Naeten Mitchell (4) and two other Temple defenders combine to take down a Killeen Shoemaker receiver during the Wildcats' 60-15 homecoming win Friday night at Wildcat Stadium. One week after the Grey Wolves scored 56 points in an overtime loss to Harker Heights, Temple's defense limited Shoemaker to 244 total yards. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
After Howard’s 11-yard run, Rumfield fired a pass to the left side for Harrison-Pilot, who made the catch and used a quick spin move to the outside to leave his defender grasping at air as he sprinted in for a 14-yard touchdown and a commanding 25-0 lead 7:15 before halftime.
Shoemaker’s offense finally found its rhythm on its ensuing possession, highlighted by a 22-yard Evans run. The Wolves reached Temple’s 17 before Javante Carson caught Evans’ on-the-move pass for a touchdown and a 25-7 game with 2:18 left in the second period.
The Wildcats got a break 23 seconds before halftime when Bajric’s punt deflected off the heel of an unsuspecting Shoemaker player before Temple pounced on the bouncing ball at the Grey Wolves 14. However, Rumfield was sacked for a 9-yard loss and Bajric’s 40-yard field goal attempt was rejected by the crossbar as time expired, leaving Stewart frustrated heading back to the locker room.
“We kind of were flat going into halftime, and I went in and rattled some cages,” Stewart said. “When (Shoemaker) scored, I saw a different look in our kids’ eyes. One of them came off and said, ‘Oh, that’s that angle.’ And that’s all I can expect of these kids, is to make those on-field adjustments and to see that speed and say, ‘OK, that’s not happening again.’ And obviously that didn’t happen again.”
Less than 2 minutes into the third quarter, it was the defense of coordinator Dexter Knox that got the momentum back on Temple’s side. From the Shoemaker 18, junior end Jackson chased down Evans near the Grey Wolves sideline and caused him to lose the ball at the 6. It bounced backward before senior linebacker Lee grabbed it along the goal line for a highlight-reel touchdown and a 32-7 lead.
“What you saw was (Jackson) get in the backfield and normally we would’ve run right at (the quarterback). I saw different angles tonight, and that’s the only way you can play that Evans kid,” Stewart said. “We’ve got (video of) every game they’ve played this year, and week after week people take bad angles, and you just can’t do that to that guy. So when you execute, good things happen.”
Evans demonstrated his speed and elusiveness on Shoemaker’s next possession. The Wolves drove to Temple’s 25 before Evans darted off left tackle and raced through the defense for a touchdown, and his 2-point pass to Carson made it 32-15 midway through the third.
However, there would be no more big highlights for Shoemaker.
Harrison-Pilot and Howard took turns at quarterback on Temple’s next possession, with Howard’s effective rushing helping the Wildcats reach Shoemaker’s 29 before Rumfield came back in and hit Williams for a 17-yard pass on fourth-and-15. From the 7, Williams jumped high in the right side of the end zone to snare Rumfield’s fade pass for his eighth touchdown reception this season and a 39-15 lead late in the third.
“It’s a lot of things back there. You’ve got to figure out who’s going to get the ball – either me, Samari or Reese. You never know,” Harrison-Pilot said. “It just gives (the defense different) looks, and they don’t know what to do.”
Williams’ 32-yard reception from Rumfield helped move Temple to the Shoemaker 21, and on the second play of the fourth quarter, Harrison-Pilot took a fourth-and-1 handoff from Howard, ran off right tackle and tightroped the sideline to score his third touchdown of the game to make it 46-15.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Temple senior Devan Williams makes a diving recovery early after Killeen Shoemaker's Omari Evans (left) was unable to catch a kickoff cleanly early in the fourth quarter. Senior tight end KeAndre Smith caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Reese Rumfield on the next play, giving the first-place Wildcats two TDs in a 12-second span in a 60-15 victory over the Grey Wolves at Wildcat Stadium. Williams also made a 7-yard scoring reception from Rumfield as part of his four-catch, 75-yard night. (Photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
The Wildcats then delivered the dagger. Bajric’s high, angled kickoff was dropped by Evans at his 25 and the hard-charging Williams alertly crashed in to recover the fumble at the 14.
“Devan's just being an athlete like me. Shoot, he can do it all. Put him on special teams and he’ll do his job 100 percent. He’s just helping the team as always," Harrison-Pilot said about Williams, who played defensive back for Temple as a sophomore, then spent most of his junior year at Wichita Falls City View before returning to the Wildcats last spring.
Stewart commended the versatile, aggressive play and the ideal work ethic of both Harrison-Pilot and Williams.
“The great thing about those kids is they’re probably some of the most talented kids I’ve ever coached, but they work as hard as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Stewart said. “The way I define culture is when your best athletes – or your top-tier folks in whatever profession it is –are the hardest workers, you can’t help but have good cultures. Those guys lead by example, and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
The Wildcats quickly made the Wolves pay for their mistake on special teams, as Rumfield (9-of-16, 158 yards, three TDs, no interceptions) fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior right end Smith along the right hash marks, giving Temple 14 points in a 12-second span for a 53-15 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Robinson was a special teams hero against Belton as he blocked two punts, one of which was recovered by senior O’Tarian Peoples for a touchdown. Robinson made his mark at running back against Shoemaker, rushing on nine consecutive plays for 65 yards and capping the drive with a 1-yard TD to complete the scoring with 3 minutes remaining.
Temple’s offensive line endured difficulties during its first two games, but the starting crew of senior left tackle Colby Rice, sophomore left guard Endrei Sauls, senior center Jose Faz, junior right guard Agustin Silva and junior right tackle Jeremiah Mungia has improved greatly during the six-game winning streak of the high-scoring Wildcats.
“I love these guys. Everyone thought just because they’re undersized they weren’t going to do good, but look at them. They’re playing good and allowing few or no sacks a game,” Harrison-Pilot said. “They’re still developing and still have things to work on, but they’re great. Those are my guys right there."
DISTRICT 12-6A FOOTBALL
KILLEEN SHOEMAKER 15
Shoemaker 0 7 8 0 – 15
Temple 10 15 14 21 – 60
Temple – Danis Bajric 23 field goal, 9:01.
Temple – Mikal Harrison-Pilot 13 run (Bajric kick), 2:46.
Temple – Samari Howard 1 run (Howard run), 9:16.
Temple – Harrison-Pilot 14 pass from Reese Rumfield (Bajric kick), 7:15.
Shoemaker – Javante Carson 17 pass from Omari Evans (Antonio Butler kick), 2:18.
Temple – Faylin Lee fumble recovery in end zone (Bajric kick), 10:02.
Shoemaker – Evans 25 run (Carson pass from Evans), 6:37.
Temple – Devan Williams 7 pass from Rumfield (Bajric kick), 2:37.
Temple – Harrison-Pilot 21 run (Bajric kick), 11:13.
Temple – KeAndre Smith 14 pass from Rumfield (Bajric kick), 11:01.
Temple – Jalen Robinson 1 run (Bajric kick), 3:23.
Rushes-yards: Shoemaker 32-118; Temple 37-212.
Passing yards: Shoemaker 126; Temple 158.
Completions-attempts-interceptions: Shoemaker 14-25-0; Temple 9-16-0.
Total plays-offensive yards: Shoemaker 57-244; Temple 53-370.
Rushing – Shoemaker: Jamarius Stewart 13-55, Evans 10-32, Paul Brown 3-16, Kmare’ Balfour 3-15, Khamari Terrell 3-0; Temple: Howard 19-121, Robinson 9-65, Harrison-Pilot 6-44, Tavaris Sullivan 1-(-1), Rumfield 2-(-17).
Passing – Shoemaker: Evans 13-22-0-111, Balfour 1-3-0-15; Temple: Rumfield 9-16-0-158.
Receiving – Shoemaker: Carson 3-43, Joseph McCray 4-24, Terrell 3-21, Brown 1-15, Balfour 1-13, Johnathan Lahmann 1-9, Stewart 1-1; Temple: Williams 4-75, Taylor 2-42, Harrison-Pilot 1-14, Smith 1-14, Howard 1-13.
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