By Tony Adams
Within the final minute, China Spring intercepted Killeen Ellison’s quarterback and picked up the go-ahead points in their championship-clinching 44-42 win.
Belton and Belton 2 played in different brackets and got different results. Belton finished second in Pool A with a 4-2 record and won their first two bracket games before falling to Ellison 72-49 in the semifinals.
Belton 2 dropped five straight Pool C games before thumping Copperas Cove 2 30-7 in the final game of pool play. They fell to Leander Rouse in the bracket opener 44-21 and losing to Austin Akins 30-25 in the consolation bracket semifinals.
Belton upends Cedar Creek 65-28
Belton took on Bastrop Cedar Creek and established a 16-0 within the game’s first five plays. Peyton Mansell hit Weston Lucas with a 25-yard pass on the right side and connected with Davion Peoples with a 20-yarder for the game’s first touchdown. On the next play, Alex Aaron jumped a Cedar Creek pass pattern and picked up two points for Belton. After a 37-yard strike from Mansell to Lane Holmes, the pair connected for an 8-yard strike to put Belton up 16-0.
Three plays after Cedar Creek scored to cut the deficit to nine, 16-7; Mansell hit peoples with a 22-yard pass to stretch the lead back to 16. After a pass defense from Bryan Thomas and two solid defensive stops by John Harvey, Belton put together another scoring drive. Mansell hit John Taggart to finish up a four-play scoring drive to put Belton up 30-7.
Following another solid defensive stand by Belton, the Tigers scored three plays later on a jump-ball reception by Remington Lutz for 21 yards and a 37-7 lead.
Tony Gallagher’s pass defense set up the Tigers next score. Mansell hit Holmes for a 28-yard score to put Belton up 44-7. The teams each traded three touchdowns in the final minutes, but Belton won the ballgame over Cedar Creek 65-28.
Belton trumps Killeen 58-21
In the next game against Killeen, the Tigers struck first, as Mansell found Chandler Vela for a 9-yard score, After Killeen tied the game, and Belton reeled off 23 unanswered points. Mansell sandwiched a 7-yard score (Holmes), 26-yard strike (Taggart) and 45-yard connection (Logan Collins) around a Garrison Vaughn interception. Mansell connected for three more scores of 24 (Peoples), 25 (Riley Brown) and 31 (Taggart), as well as rushed for a 20-yard score to give Belton a 58-21 win.
Tigers pummel Cove 2 58-23
Following a 90-minute break, the Tigers took to the Tiger Field practice facility quadrangle for a quartet of consecutive games. In game three of the pool, Belton took on Copperas Cove 2. Spotting the Dawgs a touchdown, Belton scored 37 consecutive points. Mansell hit Peoples for a 28-yard strike, Collins for a 45-yard tally, Peoples for a 12-yard touchdown, Mark Mebane picked off a pass for two points and Mansell hit Lucas on the next play for a 45-yard touchdown to give Belton a 37-7 lead. The teams exchanged a series of touchdowns late, with Mansell hitting Lutz for a 30-yard score and Lucas for another 45-yard tally to down Cove 2 58-23.
Belton comes from behind to drop Georgetown 37-28
In game four, Belton took on a very physical Georgetown squad. The Eagles went on top after stopping the Tigers in four plays with a 45-yard touchdown. A pass interference call on the Eagles set up Belton’s first score, as Mansell hit Collins for 13 yards, Vela for 16 yards and scored on a third down, one-yard toss to Vela, After a Georgetown score, Mansell’s 44-yard bomb to Collins set up a one-yard score from Mansell to Brown. Georgetown answered with a score and Belton answered with a seven-play drive, ending in a Mansell pass to Lutz to tie the ballgame at 21-21. After the Eagles answered again, Mansell hit Peoples on a 45-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 28-28. After a 35-yard pass got the Eagles down to the 10-yard line, the Tigers buckled down and stalled Georgetown at the 2-yard line.
Belton answered the defensive stand with a five-play drive, ending in the Tigers taking their first lead of the game on a four-yard pass from Mansell to Lucas. Three plays later, Vaughn’s interception gave the Tigers two more points of insurance to help Mansell salt the remaining time on the clock away and give the Tigers their four win of the day, 37-28.
Tigers run into tough China Spring squad, fall by seven
The fifth and final pool game pitted the Tigers against the China Spring Cougars. The temperatures were in the upper 90’s and game was more physical than the coaches fans would have liked. Belton took the early lead, as Mansell hit Peoples with a 2-yard pass to cap a seven-play drive. The teams exchanged touchdowns, as well as some hard chipping and tagging, resulting in chirping between the players on the field and hard feeling between coaches and fans off of it. The physical play worked to the advantage of China Spring, as they took a 14-point lead late and Belton scored on a 13-yard pass from Mansell to Lucas late. But the Cougars milked the clock and took away a 35-28 win over the Tigers.
Belton feels strain of four straight games in high 90’s heat, fall to Vandegrift
The pool crossover game to round out Friday pitted the Tigers and the Vandegrift Vipers. The teams traded the first six scores evenly before an interception by Vandegrift started a 16-point run and gave them a 37-21 advantage. Mansell hit Lutz for a 4-yard strike, but the Tigers could not pull closer and fell 46-28. The game ended Belton’s day at 4-2 and put the Tigers up against Bay City Saturday morning.
Black Cats no curse for Belton, Tigers triumph 49-28
The Tigers and Black Cats took to the field in search to get into the final eight of the winner’s bracket. It took the Tigers two possessions to find pay turf, as Mansell found Lutz in a jump-ball situation in the right corner of the end zone. Lutz pulled the ball down over two Black Cats defenders and gave Belton a 7-0 lead. Good Belton defense gave the Tigers the ball back and Mansell hit Peoples on a 40-yard fly pattern to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead. After a Bay City score, Mansell hit Vela flying up the left side for a 13-yard touchdown to give Belton a 21-7 lead. Following Bay City’s 2-yard touchdown run, Belton answered with a 1-yard jump ball from Mansell to Lutz to give Belton a 28-14 lead. After a 20-yard completion, an incompletion and a four-second violation, Bay City’s end zone attempt found the awaiting hand of Zaki Hill, as he swatted the ball away to give the Tigers’ offense the ball back.
Four plays later, Mansell hit Collins for a 29-yard score. After another Hill pass defense and a Bay City turnover on downs, Mansell drove the Tigers down field and found Taggart for a 1-yard score to put the Tigers up 42-14. Bay City sandwiched scores around a 37-yard dart from Mansell to Lucas. Belton emerged victorious 49-28 and advanced to the quarterfinals against Vandegrift.
Tigers find anti-venom against Vipers in quarters 39-28
The Tigers spotted the Vipers a score inside the first seven plays of the game. Mansell connected with Vela for a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game. The next defensive series was all Hunter Garrett. Following a pass defense, two tags and an unnecessary roughness, the senior defensive back intercepted the ball to give Belton two points and a 9-7 lead. The momentum gave the Tigers back-to-back scores, as a rollout from Mansell to Lutz from six yards out and an over-the-middle pass from Mansell to Vela from 11 yards game the Tigers a 23-7 advantage. Vandegrift scored a touchdown, but failed on a declared two-point attempt to keep the score at 23-13. Mansell found Lutz for another 6-yard touchdown to make the score 30-13, the Vipers answered with a touchdown and Hill picked off a pass to make the score 32-22. After a Vandegrift interception and failed drive, Mansell hit Collins from three yards out to make the score 39-22. Vandegrift scored with 90 seconds left, but missed the two-point try, Belton advanced to the semifinal round with a 39-28 win.
Belton play score-for-score with Ellison, Eagles pull away for 72-49 win
Belton took on District 8-6A rival Killeen Ellison, just days after the Tigers qualified for the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament in July and Ellison took third place at the Belton SQT. Mansell, Taggart and Holmes set up the Tigers on the first drive. Mansell found Taggart on passes of 10 and 9 yards, Mansell toted the ball 14 yards and hit Holmes for a 9-yard pass. After an incompletion, Mansell hit Peoples in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 7-0. Ellison scored two plays later and Mansell combined with Lucas on the next drive for 13 and 32 yards, the latter crossing the goal line to give Belton a 14-7 lead. Ellison scored on the next play to tie the game at 14-14.
The Tigers held onto the ball for seven plays on the next drive, with Mansell hitting a leaping Holmes from five yards out to re-take the lead 21-14. Ellison responded with a three-play counterpunch to tie the score 21-21. Belton drove the ball down to the 1-yard line, but was held out of the end zone. Four plays later, Ellison scored to take the lead 28-21. Belton’s four-play drive ended with the Pey-Dae Connection hanging seven large on the board, as Mansell hit Peoples for an 11-yard score to tie the game at 28-28. The Eagles scored on the final play of the half to give them a 35-28 lead and the ball coming into the second half.
Ellison wasted no time hanging another seven points on the board, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. Belton scored five plays later went Mansell found Lucas streaking towards the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown and cut the difference in the ballgame back to seven points. Ellison was aided by a questionable Tigers’ pass interference penalty and scored three plays later to make the score 49-35. The Tigers took advantage of an Ellison defensive pass interference, as Mansell found Peoples again from nine yards to make the score 49-42. Ellison scored four plays later and Mansell hit Vela with a 31-yard touchdown pass to make the score 56-49. Belton got no closer and Ellison picked up a pair of touchdowns and an interception on the last play of the game to advance to the Lone Star Shootout finals with a 72-49 win over the Tigers.
LSSO Statistical recap
Mansell was 159-of-224 for the tournament for 2,418 yards, 55 touchdowns and four interceptions over the two-day, nine-game tournament. Mansell also had 19 carries for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Lucas led the Tigers in receiving yardage with 36 receptions for 571 yards and eight scores. Peoples and Vela each had 27 receptions, with Peoples picking up 388 yards and 12 touchdowns and Vela collecting 349 yards and seven scores. Collins had 357 yards, Taggart had 340 yards and Lutz collected eight scores.
LSSO Finals: Ellison versus China Spring
Ellison took on China Spring, who dispatched Temple 69-35, were locked up in a tight final battle and the teams were tied at 42-42 with under a minute left. The Cougars’ Brett Cain intercepted Carl Robinson III’s final pass of the game for two points and China Spring emerged with its second straight Lone Star Shootout title.
Lone Star Shootout All-Tournament Team
The members of the Lone Star Shootout All-Tournament Team were: MVP-Cutter Haigood, quarterback, China Spring. Offensive MVP-Carl Robinson III, Ellison. Offense-Alex Fernandes, quarterback, Vandegrift. Jyaire Shorter, wide receiver, Ellison. Terrance Johnson, wide receiver, Temple. Chandler Herman, wide receiver, Georgetown. Peyton Mansell, quarterback, Belton. Trick James, China Spring. Brett Cain, wide receiver, China Spring. Defense-Isaiah Davilla, linebacker, Austin Akins. Ashton Logan, defensive back, Temple. Jefferson Fritz, defensive back, Kaufman. Hunter Garrett, defensive back, Belton. Tyson Curry, defensive back, Copperas Cove. Tariq McKenzie, defensive back, Ellison. Reid Bacon, linebacker, Lake Travis. Dax Dalton, defensive back, Leander Rouse.