Tigers 2 late TDs trip scrappy Montgomery 21-19
By Tony Adams
The Belton Tigers’ football team got its first opportunity to play against an opponent, as they headed down to Bryan to take on Montgomery in a scrimmage Friday morning.
The Tigers rallied back from a tenative start and a 12-0 hole with an 80-yard pass from Shane Stafford to Anthony Mirabel, 24-yard pass from Stafford to Brandon Rhoads and 35-yard pass from Haygen Tibbetts to Mirabel with 2:12 to win 21-19 in a two-quarter, timed scrimmage.
“I thought we were tentative throughout the first ¾ of the scrimmage,” said Shipley. “We had too many busts on both sides of the ball. I think the guys were so excited about lining up against someone else that we blew some assignments. We have to be able to do what we do in our sleep so the number of blown assignments was a sobering reality of kids not being comfortable in the new systems. Apparently we’re not teaching it well enough or we’re trying to do too much stuff. Either way we’ll get it corrected.”
Montgomery scored the first two touchdowns, with 35-yard and 5-yard touchdown runs, but missed the points after to make the score 12-0.
Just one play after Montgomery made the score 12-0, Stafford went into a quarterback scramble and went from the right hashmark into the middle. With the black no-contact jersey on, Stafford cut back to the middle and a Bear defender knocked Stafford down.
A brief scuffle broke out and both teams were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was not a situation Shipley took well.
“I was very upset when a couple of our guys lost their heads and retaliated for the late hit,” said Shipley. “I understand wanting to take up for your teammate. But we don’t need to get that confused with the “unity” we’re trying to build. We need to take care of that stuff when it’s legal. Getting a 15-yard penalty and being ejected from a game is not what’s best for our team. Anything that’s not good for our team is unacceptable.
“We stressed to the team that you will become us, we will not become you,” added offensive coordinator Sam Skidmore. “We have to set the expectations high for our kids.”
The Tigers responded on the next play when Stafford found Mirabel over the middle and he took the pass 80 yards for a touchdown. Blake Odell’s extra point made the score 12-7.
The Bears countered with a 70-yard drive, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point made the score 19-7.
Belton was unable to score on the next drive and Montgomery started their ensuing drive on their own 30-yard line. The Bears marched 64 yards in five plays, went down to the 5-yard line and had first and goal, poised to go up another touchdown.
Matt Chapman made a tackle on the 2-yard line on first down. Following an incomplete pass on second down and a 1-yard rush on third down, the Bears went for it on fourth down and goal-to-go on the 1-yard line. The Tigers bowed up, behind Chapman, Tevin Jones, Ryan Johnson and Calvin Johnson III and stopped the Bears on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Tigers’ offense.
“I loved the goal line stand defensive and the big stop on their last play when they went for it on fourth down,” said Shipley.
Stafford marched the Tigers’ 99 yards and capped the drive with a 24-yard pass to Rhoads. Odell’s extra point got the Tigers back to within five points of the Bears, 19-14.
“I was really impressed with the 12-play drive we strung together for the touchdown,” said Skidmore.
Following another Belton stop, backup quarterback Haygen Tibbetts found Mirabel for a 35-yard touchdown reception to take a 21-19 lead with 2:12 remaining.
Montgomery advanced the ball to midfield before the clock ran out to end the scrimmage. The teams wished each other well at midfield and gave way to the junior varsity and freshman squads, who scrimmaged after”
“We gave up some big plays but we tightened up and made the stops when we needed to,” said Shipley. “Offensively we need to do a better job of running the ball and busted way to many routes. Defensively, we gave up to many big plays. We need to reteach some base things on both sides of the ball. The good news is that’s why we scrimmage. It was a good gauge for us to see where we are and, unfortunately, we’re not as far along as I hoped we’d be but we’ll work hard on getting where we need to be.”