Tigers storm back from Rock opening touchdown, roar to 45-24 win over Dragons
After a long night of lightning delays and subsequent postponement of Belton's game at Dragon Stadium in Round Rock on Thursday, the teams agreed to a venue change for Friday's game. The venue would be Belton's Tiger Field.
Round Rock scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass on their offensive play, but Belton's offensive and defensive units stole the night with a host of solid plays en route to a 45-24 win over the Dragons. Belton improved to 1-1 on the season and Round Rock dropped to 1-1.
The Tigers got off to a good offensive start, as Marques Aguilar picked up 17 yards on the first drive on the ground. Connor Carothers hit Denver Holman on a sideline pattern for 10 yards, but the Dragons' defense halted the initial drive at the Belton 47. Logan Smith's 53-yard punt barely rolled into the end zone for a touchback, giving Round Rock the ball.
On the first play from scrimmage, Dragon quarterback Ryan O'Keefe found Garrett Miller sprinting past the secondary and hit him with a pass in stride. Miller took the ball into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown reception. Beck Kipperman's extra-point failed, keeping Round Rock in a 6-0 lead with 9:56 to go in the first quarter.
Aguilar's 32-yard kick return set the Tigers up with good field position at their own 32. Dean Blondmonville's 46-yard run gave the Tigers a first down at the Round Rock 12. Two plays later, Carothers found Anthony Brown in the right corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Smith's extra-point gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead with 7:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Ivan Lemus and Devin Martinez made solid stops on the ensuing drive to halt Rock's progress at their own 31. Belton got favorable field position off of the Dragons' punt at the Belton 40. After a 56-yard punt by Smith resulted in another touchback, Belton's defense held the Dragons in check and forced another short punt.
The Tigers slashed their way through the Round Rock defense with 15-yard pass from Carothers to Ruben Jimenez and two Blondmonville runs, the second being a six-yard touchdown. Smith's extra-point capped the drive to put Belton up 14-6 with 2:51 left in the first quarter.
Belton's defense continued to stymie the Round Rock offense, as Jarrett Karnowski had a one-yard tackle for loss and Octavius Davis sacked O'Keefe loss of six yards.
Round Rock took advantage of good field position with 7:36 to go in the second quarter, as Kipperman capped a 10-play, 49-yard drive with a 38-yard field goal to pull the Dragons back to within five points, 14-9.
The Tigers scored six plays later on the ensuing drive, when Carothers hit Holman underneath with a pass and he raced 39 yards for a score. Smith's point-after kick was true and the Tigers led 21-9 with 5:42 remaining in the first half.
Marquis Brown's 34-yard run to start Rock's next drive put the Dragons on the move in short order. O'Keefe's 11-yard touchdown run and Brown's two-point conversion run brought the Dragons back to within four points with 3:21 to go in the first half, 21-17.
A short kickoff landed the Tigers at their own 43. Carothers found Holman for a 19-yard gain to set up Blondmonville's 30-yard sprint up the middle of the field for a score. Smith's point-after gave the Tigers a 28-17 lead with 1:58 left in the second quarter.
Devyn Raper came up with two solid defensive stops to force a punt. Neither side could get anything going late in the half, as Belton carried an 11-point game into the locker room.
The Belton defense made a huge statement coming out of the break. Round Rock started the initial drive of the second half at their own 31. Marquis Brown gained 39 punishing yards over the course of five carries. Raper and JJ Bowers stopped Brown cold at the Belton 19 to force fourth down. The defense blew up an option play, resulting in a fumble and subsequent tackle by Karnowski to force the turnover on downs at the Belton 25.
The Tigers put together a 12-play, 75-yard, 2:58 scoring drive. With Aguilar and Blondmonville doing most of the work to get the Tigers down to the 10-yard-line of Round Rock, Carothers hit Holman on a 10-yard pass for a touchdown. Smith's extra-point gave Belton a 35-17 lead with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.
O'Keefe hit Collin Sullivan pass, that he made a back-shoulder highlight-reel grab on for a 42-yard gain down to the Tigers' 44-yard-line. Trey Berry picked off a pass at the Belton 2 and raced 29 yards for another key Tiger play.
It wouldn't be long before the Tigers hit payturf again, as six plays later, Carothers hit Holman again. This time, the duo connected for a 32-yard touchdown pass. Smith's point-after made the score 42-17 with 48.7 seconds to play in the third quarter.
After Round Rock was halted on the next drive, the Tigers put together another scoring drive. In nine plays and 66 yards, Smith's 30-yard field goal put Belton up by 28 points with 8:06 to play in the game, 45-17.
Marquis Brown's 46-yard kick return and 48-yard carry set up Israel Morgan's six-yard touchdown run for the final points of the ballgame. Kipperman's point-after cut the deficit to 21 points with 7:20 to play in the game, 45-24.
The Tigers were able to salt away time off the clock and Round Rock's final drive took the offense down to the Tigers' 16-yard line as time expired.
Carothers was 18-of-27 passing for 268 yards, four touchdown passes and an interception. Holman had seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Blondmonville had 17 carries for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Aguilar had 11 carries for 78 yards and Anthony Brown had five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown grab.
Belton will host the Copperas Cove Dawgs next Friday night at Tiger Field at 7:30 p.m. The game will be aired on K-Rock 101.7 FM, KRock1017FM.com and on the K Rock 1017 application starting at 7 p.m.