By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - Belton coach Rodney Southern knows there are three ways a team is going to have to win a game in a given season.
The first is offensively, the second is defensively and the third is with a game-winning field goal.
The Tigers combined two of those ways into one game Friday as they held on to defeat A&M Consolidated 26-23 at Tiger Stadium.
"We didn't take care of some stuff (at the end), but this was a good way to win a game," Southern said.
Carlo Mosnia kicked the game-winning field goal with a minute and 20 seconds remaining and the Belton defense had to stop a late Consol drive - and see them miss a 44-yard field goal as time expired - to pick up the win.
With the win, Belton (8-2, 5-2) finishes second in District 12-5A and faces Mesquite in the bi-district round of 5A Division I playoffs in Corsicana next Friday at 7:30 p.m. It is a much better match up than if Belton had lost to Consol - a matchup with state-ranked DeSoto.
"Obviously to get the No.1 seed is always good, but watching DeSoto athletically - and Mesquite is going to be athletic to -but if it is a choice of facing a ranked team over a not-ranked team, I would rather face the not ranked team."
Early on, A&M Consolidated (5-5, 5-2) couldn't stop the deep pass and Belton took advantage of it on every possession. In the first quarter, Peter Shelburne, who finished 13-for-21 passing for 256 yards, hit Derick Bates, who was wide open in the middle of the field, for a 55-yard touchdown strike to go up 7-0.
"Most of the coverage looked like man, but after the play was called they sort of shuffled back, but I was still able to pass them up," Bates said. "I was told they were fast, but guess not after I burned them on that."
Of course, Consol couldn't stop Donavan Williams either. Williams ran for a season-high 243 yards on 28 carries and scored on a 2-yard run to put Belton up 14-0.
Belton tried to deliver a death blow to Consol on the kickoff, trying an onside kick. The move backfired.
Consol recovered on the Belton 44-yard line and five plays later Durasis Nutall took a screen pass 26-yard into the end zone to cut the lead in half.
"It was probably a screw up on my part with the onside kick, which was there, but we didn't get it," Southern said. "And you are not going to put a team like that away - they are too talented - but we have to look at why we didn't get more points out of the deal."
Another special teams mistake helped Consol score on its next possession. Levi Jordan was intercepted on a fake punt and Consol, which had taken back momentum with the earlier touchdown, drove down the field with ease, churning out 78 yards in seven plays to tie the game.
Belton took the lead back, by again going deep. This time Shelburne found Durham Smythe behind the Consol coverage for a touchdown to take a 20-14 lead.
The pass hurt Belton late, though. Midway through the fourth quarter, Consol defensive end Jimmie Gilbert dropped into coverage and when Shelburne tried to loft the ball over him, Gilbert made a one-handed grab and then returned the interception 41 yards to the Belton 29. Tyler Spaw then took a wildcat snap down to the 5-yard line and Bronowski finished off the short drive with a quarterback sneak for the go-ahead touchdown.
But in the end, Consol could not stop Williams.The senior running back broke off a 34-yard run on a third-and-1, to put Belton at the Consol 5. Consol held, but Mosnia kicked a 21-yard field goal to tie the game at 23-23.
After forcing Consol to punt, Williams took the ball 36 yards down to the 15. Belton again settled for a field goal, but took the final lead, 26-23.
"This wins sets the mode for everything in the playoffs," Williams said. "This gets our confidence up and lets us know we can beat any team if we just do what we need to do."