By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
COLLEGE STATION - Belton was all about the dramatics Friday at the state 7-on-7 Division I tournament in College Station.
First the Tigers eked out a three-point win over Katy Cinco Ranch, scoring in the final minutes. Then there was the last-second rally and win over Coppell.
So, despite Saturday's quick exit from the division's bracket play, there was plenty the Tigers said they learned about themselves to use moving forward. Belton, facing defending champion Lake Travis, struggled moving the ball and didn't score in the first half, ultimately bowing out to the Cavaliers 34-6 in the first round.
"We learned a lot. Just playing as a team, growing and becoming a unit," said Tiger quarterback Blayten Magana, who connected with Levi Jordan for Belton's lone score Saturday. "Those are the things we always talk about. We've been working in the weight room everyday - this is 7-on-7.
"When we put the pads on, it's a different story."
The results weren't much of a concern for Belton head football coach Rodney Southern, who looked on behind the end zone at Texas A&M's Penberthy Intramural Fields for Belton's four tournament games.
"The big thing is we played both quarterbacks and played 20 kids, which for us is as important as being here," he said.
Belton went into the spring with Magana and rising junior Peter Shelburne both competing for the starting quarterback job. The Tigers, of course, are looking to replace David Ash, who rewrote the Belton record books and is now battling for the top quarterback spot at the University of Texas.
The two split time during most of the 7-on-7 season, usually rotating every series.
"Other than not playing well the first half of that game (against Lake Travis), they played pretty good," Southern said. "Both quarterbacks played well. You're going to give up points in this …you just have to learn how to respond to that."
Magana took the first two against Lake Travis, completing his first throw to running back Donovan Williams. The offense then stalled, which included five 4-second "sacks" as neither quarterback could find an open receiver.
Belton's defense held Lake Travis at the goal line on its first drive, but the Cavaliers followed with three straight scores to lead 20-0 at the break.
"It's about seeing our kids call plays, execute and throw and catch," Southern said. "And that's what's disappointing in the first half of this. We didn't throw and catch."
A fourth touchdown right out of the half stretched out Lake Travis' lead before the game got a little chippy between the teams.
Following a Belton turnover on downs, Lake Travis started moving down the field when penalty flags were thrown on five consecutive snaps, most going against the Tigers. One was on the extra-point try, which resulted in Lake Travis getting another chance and Belton safety Tremaine Rose being sent off the field.
"You have to keep playing," Magana said. "Those are the officials, so you have to keep playing and doing your thing."
DeSoto takes Division I title
Raheem Wilson threw two touchdown passes to Ricky Daniels as DeSoto beat Houston Lamar, 34-25, to take the 7-on-7 state title.
Wilson, who was named Division I Most Valuable Player, took a short pass and made two sharp cuts near the right sideline on a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 34-19 lead.
DeSoto lost to Lake Travis in the 2010 7-on-7 final, but neither Wilson nor Daniels were on that team.
The game was a rematch of Friday's pool play game, which DeSoto won, 38-19.
In the consolation final, Derrick Griffin's leaping touchdown over two defenders was his third of the first half as Rosenberg Terry beat Abilene Cooper, 46-26.
Terry quarterback Antoine Arboleda directed the Rangers to touchdowns on their first seven offensive possessions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.