Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Dawgs’ 34 first-half points floods Belton away from Cove

By Tony Adams
Sports Editor

It was a rough day for the Belton Tigers. At 2:30 p.m. Belton head coach Rodney Southern was told that his 2013 starting quarterback Shane Stafford was not available for the game against Copperas Cove due to an injury.
In steps senior Joe Flynn to take the reins of the Tigers’ offense on an afternoon’s notice.
The Tigers struggled Friday night with big play bug, as 19 first quarter points from Cove was enough to defeat Belton 41-14 in Copperas Cove Friday night.
The teams traded possessions to start the game. The Bulldawgs got the first break of the game, as the defense forced fumble and recovered it on the Belton 8. Just three plays later, Shaq Fluelen broke into the end zone for a yard out. Cove missed the point after kick to take a 6-0 with 7:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Flynn hit John Holmes with a 12-yard first down pass to start the ensuing drive. Brandon Rhoads took the next play 16 yards to the Cove 47.  A Bulldawg interception halted the drive at the Cove 13.
Cove made the interception count, as they drove 87 yards in 10 plays. Once again, Fluelen pounded the ball across the goal line from a yard out. The two-point conversion was missed and Cove settled for a 12-0 with 5:08 remaining in the quarter.


Following a Tigers three-and-out drive and punt, Fluelen and Elijah Shipley rushed the ball down to the Belton 29. Manny Harris hit Phillip Baptiste for a 29-yard touchdown. Jason Stanley hit the extra point, as Cove led 19-0 with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers were bound and determined to score on the next drive. Flynn connected with Andre Ewing and John Holmes on passes that moved the sticks and Flynn’s scramble put the Tigers in the red zone. On third down and 14 on the Cove 19, Flynn threw a jump ball in the corner of the end zone that the 6’5” Ewing came down with for a touchdown. Nick Amato’s extra point made the score 19-7. The drive consisted of 13 plays, 82 yards, 4:01 off the clock and 7:13 left in the half.
Baptiste’s kick return of 30 yards gave Cove great field position on the next drive, starting out at the Belton 41. Harris’ 22-yard quarterback keeper down to the Belton 5 set Baptiste up for a 5-yard touchdown to give Cove a 26-7 lead with 6:16 left in the first half.
With the next Tigers’ drive being unproductive, Cove took over on their own 36. Following a holding penalty, Harris threw a pass that was intercepted by Matt Chapman that gave the ball to the Tigers on the Cove 44.
Flynn played the drive conservatively, as the drive was aided by a Copperas Cove roughing the quarterback penalty. The drive set up a 42-yard field try from Amato, but the kick was short and wide left.
Cove (2-2 District 8-5A, 4-3 overall) took advantage of the miss with an 11-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:26. Harris showed the Tigers why he is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in District 8-5A, with his short passes and running game. He took the ball in from 8 yards away to give Cove a 34-7 lead.
The Tigers nearly scored on the last play of the half, as Flynn hit Kyle Adamson on the Cove 29 and raced 27 yards before he was stopped on the Cove 2, bringing on halftime.
The first half took over two hours to complete, with nearly 200 combined yards in penalties. With five minutes of halftime remaining with the Copperas Cove band on the field, officials ordered the field cleared due to lightning in the area. The delay was 35 minutes long and the teams returned to the field in driving rain.
Cove advanced the ball to their own 32 in five plays, but was forced to punt. The short punt by Hunter McVeigh gave the Tigers the ball on their own 43. Belton avoided a pitfall when Breyton Jackson stepped into a pass pattern to intercept Flynn, but it was wiped out on a roughing the quarterback penalty. Flynn found Rhoads for a 9-yard touchdown pass to make the score 34-14 Cove with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldawgs took the kickoff at their own 30 and started working another drive. Cove held onto the ball for two minutes before being faced with a fourth and 1 on the Belton 11. The Tigers dug their heels in and stopped Harris cold for no gain and a turnover on downs.
Flynn’s running put the Tigers back in the red zone, as a 31-yard rush and pass to Holmes set up Belton in the red zone. But a mishandled snap was recovered by Cove, ending the 76-yard drive on a blank note.
Cove’s final score came from the next drive, as LeDerian Johnson took the next three handoffs 51 yards down to the Belton 28. Following a pass defense by Brandon Julian, Harris hit Tre Powell with a 15-yard completion to the Belton 13. Harris ran the next snap into the end zone for a touchdown and 41-14 lead, which held up as the final score.
Flynn had a good performance for his first career start. He was 20-of-27 passing for 182 yards, 2 TD and 1 interception. Rhoads had 78 yards rushing on 18 carried and Kavan Johnson had 54 yards on 15 carries. Holmes had 50 yards on 6 receptions and Ewing had 68 yards on 5 receptions.
Harris was held under 200 yards for the first time this season, going 11-of-27 for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception, while collecting 119 yards and 2 TD on 12 carries. Baptiste had 4 receptions for 90 yards and 1 TD.
Despite the last moment start by Flynn and the inclement weather conditions, Southern was proud of the team’s effort.
“I thought they played hard and tough,” said Southern. “They did exactly what we asked of them. We gave up some big plays again. I was proud of their effort. I felt Flynn did a good job despite finding out at the last minute that he was going to start.”
The Tigers are now 2-2 in District 8-5A play with three games remaining and are 2-5 overall. Belton will host Killeen for Homecoming 2013 Friday night at Tiger Field.