Johnson runs for 174, Jones 20 tackles in 40-10 win
By Tony Adams
The Belton Tigers looked to get back to their winning ways on Friday night as they traveled to Waco ISD Stadium to take on the Waco High Lions.
Although the game was tight in the first quarter, three Kavan Johnson touchdown runs lifted the Tigers offensively and got another solid game from Tevin Jones and the Belton defense, as the Tigers defeated the Lions 40-10.
The win evened Belton’s record at 2-2 on the season going into District 12-6A play. Waco fell to 0-4 on the season.
Shane Stafford’s eight-yard keeper got the initial drive rolling for the Tigers. Johnson had 24 yards rushing in the first drive before Stafford hit Coby Potvin with a 12-yard TD pass. Blake Odell’s extra point completed the 7-play, 70-yard, 1:36 drive to make the score 7-0.
Belton’s defense showed its teeth while Waco moved the ball down the field. Derrick Scott guided the Lions down the field, absorbing crushing hits from Jones, Ryan Johnson, Matt Chapman and Quay Harvey. The Lions drive stalled on the Belton 4 with Waco settling for a 20-yard field goal from Logan Guardiola to pull to within four points at 7-3 with 6:51 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers next drive went three and out, inducing a 52-yard punt from Stafford, landing on the Waco 18. Following a substitution infraction, Scott moved the Lions’ offense down the field again. The Tigers got a key pass defense from Matt Chapman on third down and two on the Waco 26. The Lions punted away and downed the ball on the Tigers’ 32.
On the first play of the Tigers’ next drive, Stafford had the ball jarred loose on the run and Roderick Harris fell on it for the Lions. It set up a two-minute drive, taking six plays and 32 yards to convert. Will Richards III’s 4-yard run put Waco up 10-7 with 2:05 left in the first quarter.
Calvin Johnson III’s 20-yard kickoff return set up another scoring drive for the Tigers. Stafford mixed in an 8-yard run, 11-yard pass to Tonee Muldrew and a 12-yard Brandon Rhoads run to set Belton up second and three on the Waco 43. Stafford handed the ball off to Johnson and he sprinted up the middle through the Waco secondary towards the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but the 5-play, 75-yard drive that took 1:48 off the clock made the score 13-10 Tigers with 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
As the second quarter began, the Tigers started their clampdown on defense. Harvey and Jones rushed Scott, forcing untimely decisions and resulted in another Guardiola punt. Potvin’s 14-yard return started the Tigers in good field position on their next drive on the Waco 44.
Following a Stafford 2-yard carry, Johnson busted through the line again, this time breaking free for a 42-yard scamper to pay-turf. The extra point was no good, keeping the score 19-10 with 11:02 remaining in the first half.
Ashton Johnson took Odell’s kickoff on the Waco 5 and ran the kick back 53-yards and almost broke free, if it wasn’t for the effort of the Odell and his wrap-up of the speedy Lions returner. Waco started the drive on the Belton 42. But three incompletions from Scott brought about another Waco punt down to the Belton 12.
The Tigers’ next drive got them to midfield, but could not move the ball further. Haygen Tibbetts’ 42-yard punt gave the Lions the ball back on their own 9.
Scott opened the Waco drive with a pair of incompletions and an 11 yard-scramble for a first down. Jones and Ricky Martin combined to shut the drive down for the Tigers and force a fourth down punt on the Waco 26. A high snap went over Alexis Arranaga’s head and he fell on the ball at the Waco 4, giving the Tigers a short field to work with.
Johnson followed his first two-yard gain of the drive with a second one for a touchdown,. Odell’s point-after made the score 26-10 with 4:28 left in the half.
Waco nearly fumbled the kickoff, but recovered on their own 46. They held the ball for 17 plays and burned the clock to the point of a 36-yard field goal attempt from Arranaga. Following two Belton timeouts to ice Arranaga, the play was a fake. The holder sprinted towards the end zone and was caught by Jones on the 2-yard line, ending the half.
The Lions got the ball in the third quarter and gained a first down on the third play of the opening drive. On first down and 15 on the Waco 42, Chapman picked off Richards on the Waco 43.
Belton’s opening drive lasted three plays, ending in Stafford being intercepted by Ky’Lan Robinson.
Waco put together another sustained drive, eating up four minutes and 44 yards. On fourth down, Jones stopped Richards a yard short of the sticks, giving the Tigers the ball back on their own 15.
The Tigers put together their longest drive of the night on the ensuing drive. Spurred by a 20-yard pass play from Stafford-to-Rhoads set up a Davion Peoples 10-yard TD run. The 13-play, 85-yard, 4:38 drive gave the Tigers a 33-10 lead with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
Belton’s special teams forced a fumble on the kickoff with B.P. White making the recovery. Tibbetts took over at quarterback and marched the Tigers 32 yards down field. He hit Deandra Marshall in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard TD pass. Odell’s point after put the Tigers up 30 at 40-10 with 10:52 remaining.
Neither team scored the rest of the night, but Jones’ motor never quit. He made five tackles on the final Waco drive, including a big one on fourth and six on the Belton 21. The Tigers bled the clock and took home a 30-point win.
The offensive line played much better Friday night, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and giving Stafford and Tibbetts time to work.
“We put the game on their shoulders and they played great,” said Belton head coach Bob Shipley. “We didn’t do that at all last week. I was proud that they answered the challenge.”
Johnson’s big game not only came from holes opened up by his offensive line, but his decision making played a huge part in his 17 carries and 174 yards, with 132 coming in the first half.
“Kavan was amazingly patient and got a feel for what was going on around him,” said Shipley. “We felt like Kavan was in a rhythm and feeling things well, so well rode him longer that we normally would.”
Jones had another stellar night of defense, making 20 tackles on defense, including two key fourth down stops.
“He played great assignment football,” said Shipley. “He did what we asked him to do. We didn’t do everything tonight and didn’t do it as well as well needed to do it.”
“Overall, it was a really good team effort,” said Jones. “We finally let go of the losses and cleaned up what we needed to. We didn’t give up and just kept going.”
The Tigers start District 12-6A play with a trip to Leo Buckley Stadium on Thursday to take on Killeen Shoemaker.