WACO — If Bob Shipley’s first game as Belton’s head football coach was a play on Broadway, it would have received five-star reviews.
Just about everything went right in Shipley’s first game with the Tigers on Friday as they rolled to a 48-0 win over Waco University at Waco ISD Stadium in a game that’s part of this weekend’s Derrick Johnson’s Heart of Texas Classic.
Belton’s offense rolled up 511 total yards and built a 35-0 halftime lead on its way to the most points in a win for the Tigers since a 58-14 decision against Austin High in the 2011 season opener. The defense held University to 153 total yards and forced seven fumbles, recovering three for its first shutout since a 37-0 victory over Ellison in 2011.
“The tempo on offense was really good. We ran 54 plays in the first half. I’ve coached games where we haven’t run 54 plays,” Shipley said. “It was great to have our defense get a shutout. They needed that confidence.”
“It’s good to have that first one over. The kids have been getting up at 5:30 every morning the past three weeks, and it’s good to have their hard work pay off. I was proud with our overall effort on both sides of the ball. We played with great enthusiasm.”
The shutout was vindication for the offseason work of a Belton defense that allowed 45.9 points per game in 2013. Linebacker Tevin Jones, the Defensive MVP of the game, led the way with 10 tackles and a forced fumble. The Tigers had seven tackles for losses and got fumble recoveries from Quay Harvey, Kofi McDonald and Qua Miller.
“The feeling I have more than any right now is gratitude,” Jones said. “We got a shutout because our defensive line really got after it. Everyone on defense put in a great effort.”
On offense, Belton quarterback Shane Stafford, the Offensive MVP, may have had his best game as a Tiger. Six Tigers caught passes from Stafford, who finished 16-for-27 for 254 yards passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Stafford also rushed for 63 yards on six carries.
“I think this was our best all-around game since the beginning of last year,” Stafford said. “What the defense did put a fire under us. Our mindset hasn’t changed, but we executed better.”
Belton’s offense was potent from the start. The Tigers needed just five plays to move 75 yards on its opening drive, capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Coby Potvin.
After holding University to a three-and-out on its first drive, Potvin had a 23-yard punt return to set up a short pass from Stafford to Brandon Rhoads, who weaved threw University’s defense 44 yards for a touchdown. Potvin led all players with six receptions for 93 yards.
The Tigers scored touchdowns of five of their seven first-half drives, with the last three covering 80, 80 and 74 yards. Stafford was 15-for-23 for 241 yards in the first half, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Bryce Thomas to give Belton a 21-0 lead with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
Sophomore tailback Davion Peoples was solid filling in for injured starter Kavan Johnson. He rushed for 75 of his yards in the first half, including a 7-yard scoring run with 7:34 left in the second quarter. Peoples finished with 110 yards on 17 carries.
A 2-yard touchdown run by Olajuwon Taylor with 57 seconds remaining in the first half gave Belton a 35-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile Belton’s play in the first half on defense may have been better than any half they played in the entire 2013 season. Led by strong play by its line and linebackers, it held University to 65 total yards and three first downs in the first half.