Belton’s 41 First-Half Points Carry the Tigers Over Harker Heights, 48–14
Tony Adams - Sports Editor, Belton Journal
The Belton Tigers took on the Harker Heights Knights on Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium in search of their second win of the District 12-6A season.
In a game that featured two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter for Belton, the Tigers posted 27 points in the first quarter and scored 41 points in the first half to roll over the Knights, 48-14.
The win improved Belton’s record to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in District 12-6A play. The win, combined with Temple’s 42-6 win over Shoemaker on Thursday night and Midway’s 56-27 win over Ellison on Friday night, put the Tigers in a three-way tie for first place. Harker Heights dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in district.
Belton won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, in which the Knights chose to receive. The Knights moved the ball from their own 25 to the Belton 44, as big stops by Marco Moctezuma and Sam Ramirez helped the Tigers get the ball back via a Mikelle Mason punt at the Belton 19.
The Tigers went to work early, as Connor Carothers started the drive with trios of completions to Anthony Fairbanks for a total of 32 yards. After Denver Holman’s 11-yard run, Carothers completed two passes to Anthony Brown for a gain of 21 yards. Marques Aguilar’s six-yard gain put the Tigers at the edge of the end zone and Dean Blondmonville completed the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Logan Smith’s extra-point completed the Tigers’ 11-play, 81-yard drive to give Belton a 7-0 lead.
On Heights’ second play of the ensuing drive, Jason Stephens stepped into the pass pattern, intercepted a pass on the Heights’ 35 and took the ball into the end zone. Smith’s extra-point with 4:40 to play in the first quarter increased Belton’s lead to 14-0.
Octavius Davis made his presence known and painfully felt, as he dropped Andre Gebhardt for a four-yard loss to start the Heights’ next drive and teamed with Moctezuma to finished the drive by rushing starting quarterback Shuan West into an ill-timed incompletion. Denver Holman’s 14-yard punt return, combined with a Harker Heights facemask penalty, gave the Tigers prime field position at the Knights’ 14-yard line.
Aguilar was stopped on the first play of the next drive, but another Heights’ facemask penalty brought the ball to the Knights’ seven-yard line. After a Belton false start penalty, Holman was dragged down at the goal line on a pass interference call on Heights. Aguilar scored on a two-yard run and Smith’s extra point try was blocked to keep the score at 20-0 with 2:58 to play in the first quarter.
Three plays after the touchdown, West was scrambling out to his right and let go of a pass downfield and got leveled. The ball was intercepted by Devyn Raper running backwards at the Belton 45. He turned around, cut towards the middle of the field, picked up two blocks and ran 55 yards for the interception-return touchdown. Smith’s extra-point gave the Tigers a 27-0 lead with 1:17 to play in the first half.
Terrance Hayse’s 27-yard run on the first play of the ensuing drive had the Knights rolling along before Jarrett Karnowski’s stop on a third down and three play forced another punt.
Belton’s only drive of the first half that came up empty was a drive that started at the Tigers’ 17-yard line and was stopped on a fourth down and three at the Heights’ 31, as a pass fell incomplete.
The Belton defense pinned their ears back and forced another stop to give the Tigers good field position at their own 43. A sensational 25-yards catch by Ruben Jimenez gave the Tigers the ball at the Heights’ 25 and another grab by Jimenez put the Tigers into the red zone. Blondmonville completed the drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Smith’s extra-point with 3:29 remaining in the first half upped Belton’s lead to 34-0.
The Tigers recovered a Heights’ fumble at the Knights’ 38-yard line and Belton responded with a 13-yard pass play from Carothers to Holman for another score. Smith’s extra-point made the score 41-0 with 1:01 remaining in the first half.
Belton and Harker Heights traded possessions to start the second half before the Tigers struck again.
Carothers started the drive with a 22-yard completion to Anthony Brown and concluded it with a 19-yard touchdown run by Aguilar, who started the run to the right and reversed all the way across the field to the left for the score. Smith’s extra-point with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter increased Belton’s advantage to 48-0.
Heights broke the shutout on the first play of the fourth quarter, as La Princeton Dixon found Hayse for a 29-yard catch-and-run touchdown play. Jamie Vargas’ extra-point cut the Tigers lead to 41 with 11:52 left in the ballgame, 48-7. The drive consumed 7:15, covering 75 yards over 14 plays.
The Tigers second team players were substituted in during the fourth quarter and Heights was able to score following a 59-yard punt by Smith.
The Knights put together another sustained drive, going 88 yards on 12 plays, 47 alone on a crazy reception by Isaiah Devane at the Belton 12. Jaylan Washington’s two-yard touchdown run and Vargas’ extra-point drew Heights to within 34 points with 2:09 to play, 48-14.
The Tigers got the ball back and bled the clock to claim the win.
Carothers was 21-of-26 passing for 241 yards and one touchdown. Brown led the Tigers with seven catches for 74 yards.
Belton will host the Shoemaker Grey Wolves at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night (Sept. 28) at Tiger Field.