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Belton goes 2-1 in Pool A in Belton SQT

Belton-SQTThe Belton Tigers 7-on-7 team hosted the Belton State Qualifier Tournament Saturday at Tiger Field.

The Tigers, a week removed from earning their ticket to the Region I State Tournament in July, played Bastrop Cedar Creek, Austin Bowie and Waco in Pool A of the SQT.


In the first pool game, Belton converted on their first three possessions and Xavier Moffitt's interception return for a touchdown put Cedar Creek in an early 27-0 hole, leading the Tigers to a 54-12 win over the Eagles.

Shane Stafford tossed three first half touchdowns. He hit Andre Ewing with a 27-yard pass on Belton's opening drive, a four-yard strike to Camron Meyers and an 18-yard bullet to Bryce Thomas. Xavier Moffitt had an interception return 25 yards for a touchdown. Cedar Creek scored just as the first half horn went off.

In the second half, Stafford went to work immediately and hit Brandon Rhoads with a four-yard pass for a score and a 34-7 lead. The defense made four consecutive drive stops, as Stafford and his band of receivers dissected the Cedar Creek secondary with surgeon-like precision with another three touchdown passes from the Tigers' quarterback. Stafford found Meyers for a three-yard strike, Kavan Johnson on a one-yard pass and Tony Muldrew on a 45-yard bomb to put the game on the shelf for Belton 54-12 over Cedar Creek.

Andre-EwingIn the second game of the pool, Bowie came calling and left the Tigers' searching for themselves for the first 15 minutes of the game. Falling behind 19-0, Belton was able to crack the scoreboard with 4:49 to play in the first half as Stafford found Rhoads for a four-yard touchdown, set up by a 41-yard jump ball to Ewing. Belton was able to pull within 12 points at 19-7.

Bowie would not be denied another trip to pay dirt, as they answered with another score and the Tigers trailed 26-7 at the half.

Stafford immediately got the Tigers into the end zone to start the second half. Following a 28-yard pass to Ewing, Stafford found the speedy Rhoads for a 17-yard score. Following the missed conversion, the Tigers trailed 26-13.

Bowie struck back with a trip of touchdowns to put the game away. Belton could only muster a pair of Stafford touchdown passes to Ewing (10 yards) and Johnson (15 yards), as the Tigers fell to Bowie 47-27.

Bowie's height and untimely drops led to Belton having some trouble with Bowie.

"With some drops and pressure, Bowie took advantage and they got us that game," said Stafford.

The final pool game pitted the Tigers against a short-handed Waco team. Being outscored 105-7 in its first two games, Waco found no mercy against the Tigers.

On the game's opening drive, Stafford made short work of the drive as he found Stephen Snyder on a four-yard score. The conversion failed and Belton went up 6-0.

Following a trio of three-and-out possessions, two belonging to Waco, Stafford hit Olajuwon Taylor with a 28-yard pass to put the Tigers up 12-0.

Belton's defense came up big again, stopping Waco and setting Stafford up again. Following a beautiful adjustment to his pass pattern while the ball was in flight, Rhoads caught a 27-yard pass from Stafford setting up another touchdown pass. Ewing out jumped the Waco defender in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown and Belton went up 19-0.

Following an interception on defense by Ryan Johnson, the Tigers went up 25-0 on a 30-yard pass from Stafford to Thomas. Matt Chapman made a pick to end the first half for the Tigers.

Moffitt came up huge again with his second pick-six of the day, intercepting Waco on the second play from scrimmage in the second half, giving the Tigers a 32-0 lead.

Following another Belton three-and-out defensive stand, Stafford and the offense went to work on the clock. An 11-play, 45-yard drive ended with a one-yard jump ball from Stafford to Ewing to give the Tigers a 39-0 lead.

The defense made its sixth drive stop of the game and set up the Belton offense for another chance at scoring. And they did just that, as three plays later Stafford connected with Ewing for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Belton a 46-0 lead.

Following a Belton defensive interception, Stafford connected with Izzy Garcia on a 45-yard catch-and-sprint touchdown to wrap up the scoring for the Tigers winning 52-0.

Stafford on the day threw for 17 touchdowns and only one interception in the three games, throwing for an impressive 971 yards on the day, averaging 307 yards per game.

"I thought we played well as a group," said Stafford. "We had some young guys step up with some absences and testing going on. They really came through. We had some tough drops in the second game, but I thought we played really well."

Stafford's connection with Ewing was ever apparent, has he taken advantage of Ewing's vertical leaping ability with clutch touchdowns throughout the day.

"We have connected last year and during the spring," said Stafford. "We have a feel for each other and how he can adjust to some of the throws."

Stafford's work with his receivers at the beginning of drives, starting at the 45-yard lines to about the 20-yard line, was noticeable as many of the plays the receivers were open. The openness gave Stafford plenty of options, especially against Cedar Creek and Waco.