By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - It never looked too hard.
But it never looked too easy, either.
Belton had scoring drives of 77, 85, 99 and 80 yards as it methodically scored time and time again Friday in its 42-24 win over Temple at Tiger Stadium in Belton.
"I thought our game plan was good and I thought David (Ash) executed very well," said Belton coach Rodney Southern. "I thought we moved the football extremely well and did not make a lot of mistakes."
Thanks to that execution it seemed easy at times for Ash as he picked the Temple defense apart bit by bit.
The University of Texas commit was 18-of-29 passing for 345 yards and four touchdowns and added another on the ground.
"We had good protection and David just knows where to put the ball," said Belton wide receiver Wolf Mahler. " … Temple played it pretty well tonight, but we were able to keep our hands on the ball and bring the passes in."
Each drive usually had a big play that defined the drive - whether the Tigers (3-4, 3-1) scored on that particular play or not.
On its opening drive of the game, Belton marched 85 yards on seven plays. The highlight reel play was a 41-yard grab-and-haul by Levi Jordan, who led the Tigers with 97 receiving yards, that set up the Tigers on the Temple 25-yard line.
Kenny Shuler then finished off the drive with an 18-yard scamper up the middle and then a 5-yard touchdown dive.
Belton did not have to go as far for its second score. But, it too had a drive defining play - a 35-yard catch and run by Adrian Henderson. Two plays later Ash found Darius Ewing in the end zone from 5 yards out for the 14-0 lead.
"It is important for us to jump on people early because we are not what we were a year ago defensively," Southern said. "Two of those drives at the end of the game took them four or five minutes and they could not score enough fast enough (if we get up early)."
Temple (0-7, 0-4), like most teams this season, had its way with Belton on the ground.
The Wildcats nearly had three 100-yard rushers with MarQuette Wilson rushing for 121 yards on 24 carries, Keith Buhl going for 154 on 15 and not quite making the century barrier was Ronnie Chapman, who carried 14 times for 99 yards.
The first run that hurt the Tigers was a sweep to the outside by Buhl, where the sophomore hit the sideline and then the end zone for a 37-yard score.
Of course, Temple never could slow the Belton offense, which racked up 541 total yards, and had its best game on the ground of the season. Belton did not have a single 100-yard rusher, but Donovan Williams and Shuler combined for 160 yards on 23 carries.
"I thought we ran the ball well - especially in situations where we weren't supposed to run it well," Southern said.
Shuler's biggest play, though, came in the passing game.
After an 11-play, 75-yard drive put the Tigers up 21-7, Shuler all but put the game away before halftime.
Starting on its own 1-yard line, Belton began yet another long drive.
This drive, unlike the first three, was highlighted by a big scoring play. Ash hit Shuler in the flat on what looked like a 6- or 7-yard gain. However, Shuler made a move and the next thing anyone knew he was 49 yards down the sideline and into the end zone.
The second half continued in much the same way.
Temple had a 77-yard drive finished off by a 1-yard plunge by Wilson to cut the Tigers' lead to 28-17.
Belton was undeterred.
Mahler, who had three catches for 80 yards, came up with a big 22-yard catch on a third and 10 and then the 8-yard drive was capped off by a 29-yard score by Jordan.
"I am the first read for David on that play …," Jordan said. "The key on the play is spacing. Whatever receiver the safety chooses to cover is wrong and David can throw an easy touchdown pass."
On its next drive, Belton only had to go 38 yards to score.
It only took three plays thanks to a 31-yard bomb to Derick Bates from Ash.
"I think looking at it on film we will see execution and protection," Southern said. "If you give David that long, he is going to hurt you."