The Belton Tigers Freshman Red squad hosted Copperas Cove in the final game of the night on Thursday at Tiger Field.
Belton took advantage of some long offensive plays and scored a late touchdown to thwart a Copperas Cove comeback to win 33-23 over the Dawgs.
The Tigers showed their teeth on Cove’s first offensive drive. Jonah Myers, Sam Ramirez and Austin Katzer stymied the Dawgs’ offense into a three-and-out drive. Seth Morgan fair-caught the punt at the Cove 38.
The running game battered Cove’s front seven throughout the game, as the message was sent in the first drive. Andrew Mace carried the first two attempts for 13 yards, followed by Javier Luna on two attempts for 13 yards and Nick Bennett concluding the drive on two carries and 12 yards, as he scored from 15 yards out. The point-after kick failed, but Belton retained a 6-0 lead with 5:22 to play in the first quarter.
After Cove answered with a 18-yard touchdown run and an extra-point, the Tigers countered with score on the ensuing drive. Trent West’s 35-yard kickoff return and 33-yard catch on a throw from Wriley Madden got Belton on the march. Madden’s pass to Morgan for 16 yard set up Mace’s 22-yard touchdown run. The kick failed, as the Tigers kept a five-point lead with 9:53 to go in the first half, 12-7.
Tobie Montgomery and Jacob Estrada rocked the Cove quarterback into a fumble that the Tigers picked up at the Cove 40.
Luna’s eight-yard touchdown run and Garrison Lane’s extra-point capped a five-play, 40-yard drive to give Belton a 19-7 lead with 6:25 left in the half.
Cove responded with a prolonged drive, 13 plays in duration, covering 71 yards, and 5:46. A six-yard run and a two-point conversion had Cove back to within four points with 39.4 seconds remaining in the first half, 19-15.
Tim Saxon recovered an onside kick at Tigers’ 49 and Belton made Cove pay dearly. Madden spotted tight end Itty Henry over the middle and fired the ball into his hands and sprinted 51 yards for the touchdown. Lane’s extra-point put Belton up 23-15 at halftime.
Belton worked the second half kickoff down to the Copperas Cove 18-yard line in eight plays. On fourth and five at the Cove 18, Madden’s pass flew wide of Morgan in the end zone, which turned the ball over to the Dawgs.
Copperas Cove embarked on a 13-play, 82-yard, 7:45 drive to work their way into the end zone from 11-yards out. The two-point conversion put Cove to within a field goal with 9:14 left in the game, 26-23.
Belton’s longest possession of the game was their final scoring drive of the game. Madden converted a third down and nine pass to Henry for 18 yards, a fourth down and fourth pass to Henry for 12 yards and a third down and 16 pass from a 21-yard touchdown pass to Connor Whitman for an insurance touchdown. Lane’s extra-point gave the Tigers a 10-point lead with 2:31 to play, 33-23.
Ramirez jolted the ball away from a Copperas Cove running back and Henry recovered the fumble to end his stellar night.
The Tigers travel to Harker Heights on Thursday (September 20) to take on the Knights at 7 p.m.