TEMPLE — Rodney Southern doesn’t want to see it on film.
The Belton coach thinks it was there.
But the ball never got thrown. With less than nine seconds left, Belton tried to execute a double pass. However, quarterback Peter Shelburne’s throw to backup Shane Stafford was a little high and backward. The ball hit the ground, a live football, and the Tigers lost 11 yards.
“I think it was there. I probably don’t want to see it on film,” Southern said. “It works great in practice.”
And any chance of a comeback all but ended as Belton fell to Temple 50-44 in a wild shootout at Wildcat Stadium on Friday.
“It really scripted out in the end,” said Temple coach Mike Spradlin. “Our defense had a chance to step up in the end and make plays, and really the time before when we were able to punt and get a 12-point lead I thought was huge too.”
Belton led throughout the game, but Temple’s 21-point third quarter doomed the Tigers. Belton (4-2, 1-2 8-5A) went up 31-21 in its initial drive of the fourth after Shelburne scored on a 1-yard keeper.
But,Temple (4-2, 2-1) answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zach Allen on its next possession to cut into the Tiger lead.
Belton drove down to the Wildcat 39 on its next try, but after two straight incomplete passes, Southern chose to punt to the dangerous Temple offense. Six plays later, Temple led 35-31 after an 18-yard run by Keith Buhl. After a Shelburne interception, Allen scored again. This time, he plunged in on a 1-yard run that completed a 21-point swing in less than seven minutes.
“To schedule Belton for homecoming and get a win is huge,” Allen said. “There is nothing better. People can downplay the rivalry game, but there is so much to it and we are just ecstatic right now.”
Belton scored two more times — a 1-yard run by Cameron Meyers and a 6-yard run by Brandon Rhoades — but couldn’t get the touchdown at the end.
After Rhoades score cut the Temple lead to 50-44, Belton successfully recovered the onside kick, giving the Tigers the ball with less than a minute to go. But, the pair of trick plays Southern had in mind never came to fruition thanks to the fumble.
“We had a couple of things we worked on and one we did not even get an attempt on,” Southern said. “We wanted to get the ball to Derick obviously, because he is our biggest threat. We executed about as well as we could. We just ran out of time.”
The Wildcats kept the game close in the first half thanks to a pair of big plays.
Twice Allen, who was 12-of-18 passing for 286 yards and three touchdowns, hit a streaking President down the sideline in the first half. The first went for 69 yards and a touchdown. The second one also went to President, who had four receptions for 180 yards, and came with 1:01 remaining in the half and went for 73 yards and a touchdown. The late score cut the Tigers’ lead to 24-21.
“I saw they were playing cover two and the hole shot open, so I just got in the hole and Zach made a heck of a throw,” President said.
The Tigers took an initial 7-0 lead on a 10-play drive that took 4:09 off the clock and culminated on a 13-yard run by Shelburne, who threw for 278 yards on 22-of-36 attempts, and went up 10-7 after a seven-play, 42-yard drive.
Temple took a brief lead in the first half, after a pair of runs by Allen, who ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. The first of which went for 22 yards and the second was a 9-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers took the 17-14 lead on Shelburne’s 17-yard pass to Texas commit Durham Smythe, who had seven catches for 114 yards. Kyle Battle then intercepted Allen’s pass two plays later, setting the Tigers up at the Temple 38-yard line. There was no long drive this time for Belton. Rhoads took the pitch 38 yards and into the end zone to put the Tigers up 24-14.
“I thought we just needed to score some more points,” Spradlin said of going down 10 twice in the game. “We talk a lot about controlling the things you can control, and the offense’s job is to score and the defense’s job is to stop them. ... We have to create our own momentum.”