BELTON — Belton’s defense was able to do a good job of keeping Killeen from scoring points on Friday for about 45 minutes. In the last 3 minutes, however, the Kangaroos were able to find something they were lacking, a dependable passing game. Because of that, Killeen was able to rally, just in the nick of time.
The winning points came from a 25-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Gaskamp to Djiron Lilley with 8 seconds remaining that gave Killeen a 31-28 victory over Belton in a District 8-5A game at Tiger Field. The winning score capped a 77-yard drive that took 1:40.
Belton took a 28-19 lead with 4:37 remaining on a 23-yard touchdown run by Kavan Johnson, but a 46-yard return by Lilley on the ensuing kickoff gave the Kangaroos the ball at the Belton 42-yard line. Gaskamp completed four passes, including a 13-yard scoring strike to Lilley with 2:45 remaining to cut Belton’s lead to 28-25 as a 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Killeen held Belton to a three-and-out possession on its next drive to set up the last-minute drama.
Gaskamp had 101 of his 199 passing yards on his last two drives.
“They played their two safeties back the whole game. We were able to throw
in the middle the whole game, but I made some mistakes. Our offensive line is young, but they did great,” Gaskamp said. “We were all in for this game. There was no tomorrow if we lost.”
The result gave both teams identical 2-6 records, 2-3 in 8-5A. They are tied with Harker Heights for fifth place, one game back for the fourth and final playoff spot. Killeen snapped a three-game losing streak while Belton dropped its third straight.
Killeen running back Daniel McCants also had a big game, rushing for 253 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three receptions for 49 yards.
Belton coach Rodney Southern said the threat of what McCants could do dictated late defensive strategy.
“It’s disappointing. We had opportunities to finish and we didn’t,” Southern said. “The thing you have to be aware of is number six (McCants) getting vertical on us. We didn’t let him get vertical late, but you still have to get a pass rush and cover every route.”
Johnson rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns while running back Brandon Rhoads caught 10 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Belton quarterback Shane Stafford, who missed last week’s game against Copperas Cove because of symptoms of a concussion, accounted for 292 total yards. Stafford passed for 208 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions in the second half. One interception was by Keondre Parker, who also forced a second-half fumble that teammate Marquis Blakley recovered.
Belton appeared to have a defensive boost on Killeen’s first drive of the second half to preserve a 21-13 lead. With the ball at the Belton 1-yard line, the Tigers stopped Gaskamp and McCants for no gain on consecutive plays.
After Blakley’s fumble recovery McCants had a 17-yard touchdown run with 6:26 remaining, but the Kangaroos couldn’t convert the ensuing 2-point conversion pass.
Belton took a 14-7 lead with 19 seconds left in the first half on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Rhoads to cap an 80-yard drive.
The Kangaroos countered with an 89-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by McCants with 5:35 left in the second quarter, but couldn’t tie the game as Alex Gilland’s extra-point kick was wide left. Killeen was 1 for 5 on extra-point attempts. A 9-yard touchdown run by Johnson extended Belton’s lead to 21-13 with 2:13 left in the first half.