Snarls And Stripes

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Belton falls in Adidas Texas 7-On-7 State Championship bracket, finish
excellent season with 28-8-1 record

The Belton Tigers 7-On-7 reached one of their desired goals of the 2018: a return to the Adidas Texas 7-On-7 Division I State Tournament.
They qualified back on May 19 by winning four games at the Lake Travis State Qualifying Tournament. They have played a great number of games since and went into the state tournament with a 26-6-1 record.
The Tigers were slotted in Pool F with El Paso Franklin, Rockwall, and Fort Bend Travis on Friday at Veterans Field’s No. 9A/B in College Station

Tigers jump out a 15-point lead in first two drives, cruise to 41-14 win over Franklin

Connor Carothers tossed five touchdowns and Ruben Jimenez tossed another, as the Tigers defense held the El Paso Franklin offense to a pair of scores in a 41-14 win.
The win gave the Tigers a game advantage in Pool F.
Carothers set the tempo with a 37-yard pass to Anthony Fairbanks on the first play of the game. He then found Denver Holman sprinting off to the right for an eight-yard touchdown catch. Franklin roughed Holman on the play, which shortened Belton’s two-point conversion try. Carothers hit Marques Aguilar for the successful try and the Tigers led 8-0.
Belton’s defense tightened up the passing lanes, as Jason Stephens, Trey Berry, and Christian Castillo put their hands on three passes and helped the Tigers get the ball back.
The combination of Carothers and Fairbanks combined for a 28-yard pass play on the first play of the ensuing drive. Carothers found Holman for his second touchdown of the game, this time from 17-yards out. Carothers hit Anthony Brown in the far corner of the end zone to give Belton a 15-0 advantage.
Franklin scored on a four-play, 45 yard drive and capped it with an eight-yard score. Berry swatted away the conversion attempt and the Tigers kept a nine-point lead, 15-6.
Carothers found Gunner Garrett for an eight-yard completion to start the next drive. A 30-yard completion to Aguilar set up a seven-yard touchdown pass to Fairbanks. The conversion attempt fell incomplete, as the Tigers stuck to a 15-point lead, 21-6.
After a Franklin touchdown, extra point and Berry’s interception on the 10-yard-line on the next drive, Carothers hit Aguilar for a 31-yard touchdown pass and Brown for the conversion to give Belton a 28-14 shortly before halftime.
On the final play of the half, Stephens intercepted a pass at the 10-yard-line to keep the score 28-14 at halftime.
Stephens second interception of the game set up a beautiful nine-yard pass play from Carothers to a tip-toeing Brown in the back of the end zone for six points. Carothers found Holman for the conversion and the Tigers lead 35-14.
Berry, Castillo, and Ivan Lemus created havoc in the secondary and stopped a Franklin drive at the 7-yard-line.
Jimenez’s second pass attempt was a 38-yard completion to Aguilar. Two plays later, Jimenez hit Jose Perez for a one-yard score. The conversion failed, which kept Belton with a 27-point lead.
Ajay Payton intercepted Franklin’s last gasp at getting back into the game with two minutes to play.
Carothers was 14-for-20 passing for 233 yards and five touchdowns. Aguilar led the team in the receiving yards, with 99 on three catches. Holman had 75 yards on three catches and Brown had 64 yards on three catches.
The defense knocked down 10 passes and had four interceptions.

Belton falls to Rockwall 40-28, despite a terrific effort

In some games and some seasons, teams have your number.
In the 2018 7-On-7 season for the Belton Tigers, it has been the Rockwall Yellow Jackets.
The Tigers fought hard to stay close to the Yellow Jackets. But a late touchdown gave Rockwall insurance, as they downed Belton 40-28 for their first loss in pool play.
Belton struck quickly, as Carothers hit Fairbanks with a 45-yard touchdown to open the game. Carothers hit Brown in the front of the end zone to give the Tigers a 7-0.
Carson Harris knocked down the first Rockwall pass attempt. But Rockwall scored two plays later on a 33-yard pass and successful conversion to tie the game at 7-7.
Rockwall intercepted Carothers on the third play of the following drive and scored on a 30-yard pass. Harris knocked down the conversion attempt to keep the Yellow Jackets with a 13-7 lead.
Belton took the lead seven plays later, when Brown caught a 13-yard pass in the corner of the end zone from Carothers. The senior QB went to Perez for the conversion to give the Tigers a one-point lead, 14-13.
The Yellow Jackets scored on 30-yard and three-yard scores, while converting on one of the point-tries to take a 26-14 lead at the half.
Devyn Raper intercepted Rockwall to stall their first drive and Belton turned the pick into a touchdown drive. Seven plays following the interception, Carothers hit Aguilar with a three-yard touchdown and found Holman for the conversion to bring Belton back to within five points at 26-21.
Rockwall took what Tigers gave them defensive on the ensuing drive and scored on a patient eight-play, 45-yard drive. The Yellow Jackets scored from nine yards out and converted the extra-point pass to lead 33-21.
A one-handed grab by Brown electrified the Belton crowd and Carothers went back to Holman for the conversion to bring the Tigers back to within a score, 33-28.
But Rockwall put together a time-killing, statement drive that milked the final five minutes off of the clock. With 20 seconds left, the Yellow Jackets scored a three-yard touchdown and extra-point pass for the final points of the game, 40-28.
Carothers was 19-of-27 for 229 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Brown had 107 yards and two touchdowns receiving on six catches. Perez had 46 yards on four catches.
The Tigers had two interceptions wiped out on Rockwall four-second violations on offense.
The loss forced the Tigers into a must-win game against Fort Bend Travis to keep hopes alive for a Championship Bracket berth.

Tigers overcome bizarre incompletion to end first half, qualify for Championship Bracket with 33-25 win over Fort Bend Travis

Belton and Travis went into the final game of the day, each needing a win to qualify for the Championship Bracket. The loser would be relegated to the Consolation Bracket.
Despite a bizarre ruling of a “no-catch” by Jose Perez on a clear touchdown grab at the halftime horn, Belton played through some tough calls and got a Trey Berry interception for a touchdown as the go-ahead points to defeat Travis 33-25.
The win qualified the Tigers for Championship Bracket.
Castillo stalled out Travis’ first drive with an interception at the goal line.
The Tigers used the momentum on the first drive, as Carothers hit Perez for 16 yards and Fairbanks for seven yards before a 22-yard touchdown to Dean Blondmonville put Belton on the board. The conversion was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty and Belton retained a 6-0 lead.
Tanner Holman made an excellent deflection on a pass play before Travis scored on a seven-yard play. The conversion was good and Travis led 7-6.
The Tigers answered with a seven-play, 45-yard drive, highlighted by a 27-yard pass-and-catch from Carothers to Fairbanks and 17-yard pass-and-catch from Carothers to Aguilar. Carothers ran a misdirection play and found a wide-open Brown in the corner for a touchdown. The duo teamed up for a successful conversion to give Belton a 13-7 lead.
Travis answered with a 13-yard touchdown pass, but missed the conversion to kept the game deadlocked at 13-13.
With three minutes to play in the first half, Carothers surgically carved up the Travis defense. He hit Blondmonville for 23 yards, Fairbanks for five yards, Perez for three yards and Gunner Garrett for 10 yards. On fourth down and goal at the nine-yard line, Carothers hit Perez two yards into the end zone. Perez took two steps while in the end zone, stepped out of bounds, and was stripped of the football after making possession of the ball for an apparent touchdown. The line judge, who was looking at the play from six feet away, ruled the play incomplete and ended the first half without an explanation to a soul on the call. The score remained 13-13.
Belton’s beginning drive of the second half also had a questionable no-call. After a 13-yard pass from Carothers to Holman, as a Tiger receiver was pulled down by the jersey while in a passing route and no call was made on second down. The Tigers were not able to convert on third down and turned the ball over to Travis.
The defense stood tall on the ensuing drive and shut Travis down on three plays.
Carothers found Fairbanks on a 20-yard sideline route and hit Denver Holman over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown and caught the conversion to put Belton up 20-13.
Travis answered with a 17-yard tocuhdown catch, but missed the point-after pass to keep Belton in the lead, 20-19.
Seven plays later, the Tigers went back to Perez along the backline of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown. Carothers found Blondmonville for a jump-ball conversion and the Tigers opened the lead to eight points, 27-19.
Berry, who had been jumping the Travis pass pattern all day, finally grabbed an interception and ran it back for a touchdown. The conversion was incomplete, but the Tigers still led 33-19.
Travis scored on a 45-yard touchdown on the very next play, but Berry tipped the two-point conversion to keep the score 33-25.
The Tigers were able to salt away the final four minutes off the clock and clinch the Championship Bracket berth with the eight-point win.
Carothers was 21-of-29 passing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Despite the call at the end of the first half, Perez led the team with 73 yards on nine catches. Fairbanks has 59 yards on four catches and Holman has 55 yards on three receptions.

Belton’s state hopes ended with 34-28 loss to Friendswood, 2-2 overall

The Tigers took on Friendswood in the opening round of Texas Adidas 7-On-7 Division State Championship Bracket play on Saturday morning.
Belton fought through seven official-called illegal contact penalties and an interception by Castillo nullified on a Friendswood four-second violation to play the Mustangs in a tight affair. But the reversed interception was costly, as Friendswood scored five plays later and took what could have resulted in a Belton go-ahead scoring drive and made it a 13-point lead. The Mustangs won 34-28 to end Belton’s 7-On-7 hopes for a state championship.
Friendswood scored on a 10-yard pass four plays into the game. The point-after failed.
Carothers completed four straight passes to start the game and found Holman for a 10-yard touchdown. Carothers went to Brown for the extra-point to give Belton a 7-6 lead.
The Mustangs were aided by an illegal contact penalty and scored on a 22-yard touchdown. The extra-point gave Friendswood a 13-7 lead.
After Carothers was intercepted on the next drive, Frazho and Ivan Lemus made back-to-back pass defenses. But another illegal contact penalty resulted in a two-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point was good, despite the Mustang receiver stepping out of the back of the end zone before he dropped the ball. The Mustangs led 20-7.
Belton responded with a 45-yard drive, where Carothers capped it with a 13-yard pass to Holman for a touchdown. He found Aguilar in the middle of the end zone for the extra-point and Belton trailed by just six points, 20-14.
Friendswood was aided by a trapped pass ruled complete on their next scoring drive, as they capped it with a 10-yard touchdown. The conversion was good and Belton trailed 27-14 at the half.
The Tigers came out of the halftime break roaring and Carothers found Fairbanks for an exciting 27-yard touchdown pass that Fairbanks tipped and had the wherewithal to keep on an eye on the ball. Carothers went back to Brown for the conversion and Tigers pulled to within six points, 27-21.
The Tigers had excellent coverage on a first down and 10 at the 25-yard line and Castillo picked off the ball on the goal line. He ran the ball back to the 20-yard line for an apparent interception. But the official on the far sideline ruled that the play was a four-second violation and therefore, the interception did not count per rule. So, instead of the Tigers getting the ball back to put a drive together to take the lead,
it allowed the Mustangs a second chance. Four plays later, a Friendswood receiver trapped a ball and it was ruled a catch. On the next play, Friendswood capitalized with a three-yard touchdown pass and conversion to give them a 34-21 lead.
Both teams were unsuccessful on their next drives and Carothers hit Holman with a 25-yard touchdown pass for four minutes to play. Carothers found Brown again for the conversion and Belton trailed 34-28.
On the next play, the Tigers stopped a receiver for a five-yard gain and were once again called for an illegal contact penalty, called by the far line judge. Two plays later, the Tigers appeared to stop the Mustangs again when another penalty was assessed for illegal contact. Friendswood bled the clock and the Tigers’ 7-On-7 season was ended with a six-point loss.
Carothers went 18-of-22 for 202 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Holman led the Tigers with 111 yards on 10 receptions and three scores.

Tournament stats recap

Carothers was 82-of-98 passing for 925 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. Denver Holman had 20 receptions for 269 yards and seven TDs. Perez had 19 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Brown had 13 catches for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Fairbanks had nine catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
The team finished 28-8-1 on the season. They were 2-2 at state, 11-1 in state qualifiers (Rockwall only loss, 24-21), 8-3-1 in Centex Passing League/Monday Night 7-On-7 League, and 7-2 at the Lone Star Shoot Out.

Photos courtesy of Tony Adams, Sports Editor, The Belton Journal.