BELTON — The latest rivalry game between the Temple and Belton football teams on Friday went in the favor of the Wildcats, and thanks to an excellent running game and Temple’s best defensive effort of this season, it was a rout.
Temple was especially dominant in the first half in building a 34-0 lead, and riding the running of three 100-yard rushers, the Wildcats rolled to 54-20 win before a sellout crowd of 8,000 at Tiger Field.
Temple’s great ground game was led by Marques Hatcher, who finished with 146 yards and five touchdowns. The Wildcats also had 126 yards from quarterback Chase Truelove and 125 from Stephen Carr to anchor a team total of 452.
“We knew our offensive line would come through,” Hatcher said. “We were able to do this because it was our rivalry game.”
Temple (3-3, 2-1 District 8-5A) got its third straight win over Belton (2-4, 2-1). The result created a three-way tie for second place in 8-5A between Temple, Belton and Harker Heights with Waco Midway taking sole possession of first place in 8-5A at 3-0 thanks to a 42-39 overtime win over Copperas Cove.
The 20 points Belton scored was the fewest by a Temple opponent this season. After rushing for 229 yards against Ellison last week, the Tigers had 143 on Friday.
The Wildcats forced five fumbles, recovering three. The catalyst for Temple’s defense was linebacker Dominick Thompson, who finished with nine tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.
“We knew they would try to run on us and we wanted to shut them down,” Thompson said. “I just treated this like another game.”
Temple coach Mike Spradlin said even though his team had allowed 38 or more points four times this season he had faith a game like Friday was coming, but leaning on the running game was a surprise.
“We’ve been close to being this good on defense several times this season,” Spradlin said. “We wanted a more balanced offense, but the way the running game we decided to stick with it.”
The momentum of the game turned Temple’s way early because of a pair of fourth-down plays, the first the Tigers failed to convert, the second helping the Tigers advance to their first score.
Belton’s Kavan Johnson was stopped for a 2-yard gain on a fourth-and-7 at the Temple 26-yard line with 8:32 left in the first to end Belton’s first drive. Carr got 3 yards on a fourth-and-1 at the Temple 33 four plays later, extending a drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown run by Hatcher.
The Wildcats only needed 34 seconds to travel 80 yards on their next drive as a 44-yard run by Carr set up a 12-yard scoring scamper by Hatcher.
Temple was stopped at the Belton 3-yard line on its next drive, but the
Tigers were unable to move the ball. A 24-yard punt set up a 25-yard
scoring drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown run by Truelove with 6:34 left in the second quarter to give Temple a 21-0 lead.
“Not scoring on the first drive was probably a turning point of the game,” Belton coach Rodney Southern said. “You can get so hyped for a game you can get gassed, but I don’t want to make excuses. They beat us in all three phases of the game.”
Fortune on fumbles helped put the game definitively in Temple’s advantage.
Belton quarterback Shane Stafford could not handle a snap and Thompson recovered the fumble at the Belton 26-yard line with 5:56 left in the first half. Three plays later Truelove bobbled a snap, but the ball
bounced back up to him and he sprinted 18 yards for a touchdown to extend Temple’s to 27-0. Running the read option well, Truelove had 123 yards rushing on 10 first-half carries.
Hatcher extended the Temple lead to 34-0 with a 40-yard touchdown spring with 3:07 left in the first half. Hatcher had 101 yards rushing in the first half as the Wildcats had 312 yards on the ground.
Belton’s opening drive of the second half ended when the Wildcats forced Stafford to fumble and Cleon Tollerson recovered at the Belton 49-yard line.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard with 4:53 left in the third quarter on a 53-yard touchdown run by Johnson, but after recovering the ensuing
onside kick the Wildcats needed just 47 yards before Hatcher converted a 2-yard touchdown run. Hatcher had his 40-yard touchdown run with 10:32 remaining.
Stafford passed for 226 yards, including a 7-yard scoring strike to Andre
Ewing in the fourth quarter. Running back Brandon Rhoads had 138 total yards for the Tigers while Johnson had 76 yards rushing, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth.
Temple hosts Killeen Ellison next Friday while Belton plays at Copperas