ROUND ROCK — Belton’s football team had a lack of defense and discipline on Friday. Even worse for the Tigers, what had been the silver lining of their season so far — their offense — had an off night too.
Put together, it added up to a game as dreary as the weather for the Tigers as Round Rock handed them a 44-15 setback in rainy conditions at Dragon Stadium.
Belton’s defense couldn’t stop the Dragons as they scored points on their first eight possessions, with the ninth ending because time ran out. The Dragons rushed for 325 yards, led by 99 and two touchdowns from DeAndre Story.
“Of the three nondistrict teams we have played I thought Round Rock was the best ... by far,” Belton coach Rodney Southern said.
Perhaps more disturbing for the Tigers was the penalty yardage they gave up. Belton had 141 penalty yards, getting whistled eight times for 15-yard infractions.
“As a whole, when you turn the ball over and make that many penalties, you’re going to struggle to win,” Southern said. “Some of the penalties were hustling, some were obvious and the personal-foul penalties were killers.”
Belton dropped to 0-3, the second time in four years the Tigers were winless in nondistrict play. They started 0-4 start in 2010. The Tigers also lost their sixth consecutive road game.
Round Rock (3-1) held Belton scoreless in the second half. After having at least one 100-yard rusher in its first two games, the Tigers were held to 97 yards on the ground as a team.
The first quarter was a sample of how rough it was for the Tigers.
After Round Rock scored on its first drive, thanks to a 17-yard touchdown run by Story, Belton quarterback Shane Stafford was intercepted by Mason Ramirez, who returned it 32 yards. This set up a 39-yard touchdown run by Round Rock quarterback Collin Hinson. Two plays later Round Rock linebacker Brandon Zaleski intercepted a Stafford pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown to give the Dragons a 21-0 lead with 3:15 left in the first.
The Tigers regained composure with a 71-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Kavan Johnson with 10:13 left in the second quarter, then successfully executed an onside kick that Andre Ewing recovered. This set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Adamson to cut Round Rock’s lead to 21-12 as Belton could not convert a pair of 2-point conversion attempts.
The Dragons countered with a 70-yard drive, including two fourth-down conversions, finishing with a 6-yard touchdown run by Story. Belton got a 36-yard field goal by Nick Amato with 1:34 left in the second half, but the Tigers made three 15-yard penalties on Round Rock’s next drive, setting up a 32-yard Parsa Kosari field goal with 17 seconds remaining.
The Dragons marched 71 yards on the opening drive of the second half and capped it with a 6-yard touchdown run by Hinson. Hinson finished with 130 total yards, but left the game in the third quarter after getting shaken up by a Belton hit.
Even Belton’s best defensive moment of the night backfired. The Tigers forced the Dragons to punt on their second drive of the second half, but the Seth Dohrman kick hit a Belton player and was recovered by Round Rock’s Brandon Bullock. This set up a 25-yard field goal by Kosari with 2:31 left in the third quarter. Kosari also had a 20-yard field goal with 5:51 remaining to cap a Round Rock drive that took 6:23.
After rushing for more 100 yards in each of his first two games this season, Stafford was held to 27 yards on seven carries. While acknowledging his defense struggled, Southern praised the play of linebacker Tevin Jones, who led all players with 10 tackles.
Belton opens District 8-5A play next Friday hosting Harker Heights at Tiger Field. Southern said his staff will drive home the point that district play is here, as well as what happened in 2010 when the Tigers regrouped to make the playoffs.
“Nondistrict is over, Tomorrow morning everybody is 0-0 and we start over,” Southern said. “In 2010 we won five in a row. These kids are capable of doing that, too. They just have to taste it now.”