Tigers Fight Back From 14-Point Deficit Late, Fall in 3OT to Temple 58–55
Tony Adams | Sports Editor, Belton Journal
The Belton Tigers traveled to Wildcat Stadium to take on the Temple Wildcats in 2018 installment of the Leon River Rivalry/Cross Town Rivalry.
And it will go down as the highest scoring and one of the most exciting in the history of the Belton-Temple series.
The Tigers rallied from a 42-28 deficit in the fourth quarter and tied the ballgame with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Connor Carothers with 13 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime time. Dean Blondmonville scored in overtime, only to be answered by De’Jon Overton’s four-yard touchdown. Aaron Wagaman’s 40-yard field goal was answered by a 51-yard rocket shot off the leg of Logan Smith. The junior kicker hit a 39-yard field goal in the third overtime before Jared Wiley’s 25-yard strike to Quentin Johnston drove the dagger through the Tigers’ collective hearts, as Temple won in triple overtime, 58-55.
Belton sustained their first District 12-6A loss and is now 3-1 heading into the bye week, and 4-2 overall. Temple remains undefeated at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in district play, tied for first with Midway.
The Wildcats took the lead first, as they took advantage of a shanked punt. Wiley’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Johnston and Wagaman’s extra-point put Temple on top 7-0 with 10:24 in first quarter.
Belton counterpunched on the next drive, as they completed a three-play, 75-yard , 54-second drive as Carothers hit Anthony Fairbanks on an 83-yard catch-and-go. Smith’s point-after kick tied the game at 7-7 with 9:23 to go in the opening quarter.
Temple kept the ball for 3:11 on the next drive and completed the 11-play, 87-yard drive with defensive lineman Phillip Haskins getting running back call and the ball across to goal line from a yard out. Wagaman’s point-after gave Temple a 14-7 lead with 6:12 to play in the first quarter.
Belton appeared to answer momentarily, as Carothers found Denver Holman for a 79-yard touchdown. But a block in the back call brought the ball back to the Belton 46. Two plays later, Carothers found Fairbanks for a 54-yard touchdown strike. Smith’s extra-point tied the ballgame at 14-14 with 4:53 to play in the opening stanza.
Temple had a touchdown taken off of the board on an offensive pass interference penalty, but scored three plays later when Overton score from a yard out. Trey Berry blocked the point-after try and the Wildcats retained a six-point lead with 2:20 to play in the first quarter, 20-14.
After the Wildcats forced a Belton three-and-out drive, they converted a 54-yard pass from Wiley to Johnston. It set up Anthony Jackson’s five-yard touchdown scamper. Wagaman’s point-after gave Temple a 13-point lead with eight seconds to play in the first quarter, 27-14.
In the second quarter, Carothers hit Fairbanks for a 57-yard touchdown. Smith’s extra-point brought the Tigers back to within six points with 9:12 to play in the first half, 27-21.
Berry’s interception set up Belton’s next score, as Carothers hit Jose Perez for a 12-yard score. Smith’s extra-point was good, as Belton took their first lead of the night with 7:59 to play in the first half, 28-27.
Both defenses locked down the end zones for the remainder of the first half, as the Tigers took a one-point advantage into the locker room. Neither team scored in the third quarter, as Temple drove down the field in a possession that bridged into the fourth quarter.
Wiley hit Isaiah Robledo with a five-yard touchdown pass two plays into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats went for a two-point conversion and Wiley completed a rollout pass to the right side of the end zone to Haskins to give Temple a seven-point lead with 11:34 left in the game, 35-28.
A blocked Smith punt set up a 32-yard pass from Wiley to Johnston to put the Wildcats up by two scores again. Wagaman’s extra-point gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead with 10:14 to play in regulation, 42-28.
Carothers found Denver Holman for a 33-yard pass completion to the Temple 14 to set up a five-yard Blondmonville touchdown run. Smith’s extra-point cut the deficit to seven points with 8:55 to play, 42-35.
Both teams traded possessions, with Temple punting the ball to Belton with 1:08 to play and the Tigers 86 yards away from tying the ballgame.
It was the drive that legends were made of.
Carothers hit Perez on two passes for 33 yards and Blondmonville for 16 yards. He then hit Anthony Brown on the right side and AB raced 33 yards for the score with 13 seconds left in regulation. Smith’s extra-point tied the game at 42-42.
Wiley had a last shot to put the Wildcats in position for a field goal near the end of regulation, but Tanner Holman intercepted the ball with two seconds left on the clock. The Tigers kneeled on the ball and the overtime session commenced.
Temple won the toss and elected to go on defense first. Blondmonville had a four-yard carry to start the drive, Carothers hit Denver Holman with an 18-yard pass and went back to Blondmonville on a handoff. The big junior running back plowed into the end zone from three yards out. Smith’s extra-point put Belton in the lead, 49-42, as the Tigers went out on defense.
Wiley’s 20-yard run set up Overton’s four-yard touchdown run. Wagaman’s extra-point tied the game at 49-49.
Temple started on offense in the second overtime. The Belton defense stood up tall and forced the Wildcats into a 40-yard field goal by Wagaman. The kick was good and Temple took the lead, 52-49.
The Wildcats’ defense stood their ground and got two sacks by TJ Franklin, which forced Smith to try a 51-yard field goal. A junior kicker who is on a couple of 2020 national watchlists for kickers, Smith smashed the ball and it went between the uprights to force a third overtime with the score tied at 52-52.
Belton went on offense to start the third overtime and the Tigers could muster just three yards of offense. Smith’s 39-yard field put the Tigers up 55-52.
But one play into the Temple drive, Wiley hit Johnston breaking for the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown to end the ballgame in triple overtime, 58-55. The combined 113 points shattered the series record, which was set in 2012 with 94.
Smith’s 51-yard field goal tied the school record, set by Jason Ward in 1992.
The Tigers have the bye week and return home on Oct. 19 to take on Killeen for Homecoming 2018.