Tigers’ defense shines in 34-16 loss to Midway
Monday, 19 November 2012 by David Tuma
Perhaps nobody will ever know how good this year's Tigers football team truly was. Without question they should have been 9-0 heading into the final game of the season, but they weren't.
With four turnovers by the offense and a touchdown given up by the special teams the Tigers were only down 27-16 and had the ball inside the two yard line at the end of the third quarter against Midway. The Panthers had blown out every team in district but they were in a fight against a team with no chance to make the playoffs. Belton fumbled a fourth quarter snap turning the ball over.
It was simply a courageous performance by the Tigers defense that had their backs to the wall all night long. Belton struggled on offense giving up six turnovers in a 34-16 loss on the road against one of the best teams in the state.
Fittingly, in a season of horrific at times officiating, the local referee chapter lost total control of the game with inconstant calls that lead to multiple personal foul calls and a Midway player ejected from the game.
Belton got the ball into a stiff wind and after Derick Bates picked up a first down, punted. Midway using passing to the outside got a drive going and scored to make it 7-0.
Peter Shelburne ran for 33-yards and Durham Smythe picked up a first down with the Tigers moving to the Midway 28-yard line before they were intercepted.
Midway drove on the Tigers defense again and scored to make it 14-0. Chase Thornal picked up a first down but the Tigers couldn't convert a third-and-1 and punted giving Midway the ball at midfield.
Midway drove to the Tigers 10-yard line where Cameron David sacked the quarterback forcing a field goal attempt that was good giving Midway a 17-0 lead.
Belton was intercepted. The Tigers defense, with their backs to the wall, came up with their first big play of the game. Rayshun Jones got pressure and Nate Mitchell came away with an interception. Durham Smythe was mugged and unable to get his hands up on a pass intended for him with no call in a physical game played by both secondary's. Belton's crowd protested.
A bad snap on the punt and Midway was given a freebie touchdown to go up 24-0 with 9:33 left in the second. At the end of the third it should have been 27-24, somebody played some defense for Belton.
Brandon Rhoads, with a brilliant return, got the Tigers going by returning it to Midway's 20-yard line. Thornal scored from 15-yards out and Rhoads converted the two-point conversion to make it 24-8.
A pass interference call that was more than just questionable got the Tiger fans very, very, upset. It followed the mugging of Smythe and Belton's road fans, and there were plenty, up in arms. They are football fans and they know a call when they see it. It is one of those calls that change's a game.
Ben Munoz broke up a pass and Kyle Battle broke up a pass on fourth down with Midway threatening to score.
The Tigers got a drive going with several good runs by Rhoads. Smythe was hit again with the ball in the air and the Tigers got the call this time setting up Belton at Midway's 11-yard line. Bates scored the touchdown from five yards out and Camron Meyers converted the two-point conversion to make it 24-16.
Belton had a chance to stop Midway but a blown coverage in the middle let the Panthers convert a third-and-18. A strange call of pass interference was called away from the play, a late hit on the quarterback was called and Midway was in business. Two personal fouls on Midway on one play ended with a player being ejected with both side of the stadium in flames. Munoz broke and intercepted the fourth down attempt.
Belton drove to start the second half but Belton missed the field goal. Munoz stuffed a swing pass and Battle stopped another short pass. The Tigers did much better on the outside pass plays in the second half after a holding call on one of Belton's cornerbacks was seen by the fans, who helped get the call. Midway tried a fake punt that Battle and Stinson stuffed. The Tigers had the second of two chances to tie the game but were intercepted.
Midway busted a long run after getting the ball at midfield off the interception and kicked a field goal.
Bates picked up a first down with the Midway player grabbing his head and twisting it with Bates leaving the field. Thornal picked up a third-and-10 with a 14-yard catch. Rhoads, with two long runs, moved the Tigers to the six-yard line. Belton couldn't score facing third-and-1 and fumbled on fourth down.
Midway fumbled in the endzone and it bounced right to a Panther on the outside who picked up six yards. Battle stuffed Midway on third down and Midway got off a 73-yard punt.
Belton fumbled the ball back to Midway at the Tigers 42-yard line and they ended up scoring to make it 34-16. Belton drove and dropped a touchdown pass and were intercepted with Midway running out the clock.
It wasn't impressive from an offensive standpoint with six turnovers but it was how the Tigers responded to a lot of adversity that was, usual for this group but not normal in humans. This year's team was one of the very toughest mentally you can find. If they live life like they played football they will be successful.
Not many groups can keep a game close against a team with four or five Division I players including what may be the best receiver in the state. Battle and Midway's Hunter Jarmon going head to head the entire game was fun to watch. No question Jarmon is more than just special. Battle can play football and proved it.
The work ethic of this year's senior class was unique. They set the tone of the after David Ash era and hopefully the younger players in the program will follow their example, in life and on the field.
Both Tyler Santellana, Justin Love and Ryan Stinson played as sophomores and it would be interesting to go back and find out just how many Division I offensive skill players they faced. Last year they faced six.