MIDLAND — The Belton Tigers’ first goal Friday night when they entered Grande Communications Stadium was not to leave with a win. Granted, picking up their first victory of the season would have been a nice reward sandwiched between a pair of 5-hour bus rides, but that wasn’t the Tigers’ top priority.

Playing consistently in their final nondistrict game of the season was Belton’s No. 1 objective against Midland Lee. And according to head coach Brett Sniffin, that’s exactly what his team did.

Belton still came up short for the third straight week, falling 26-7, but the Tigers held Lee to 77 yards fewer than its season average and proved they could move the ball with regularity against an established Class 6A program.

“I think there was consistency, and they played hard the entire night,” said Sniffin, whose team opens District 12-6A play Thursday against Killeen at Leo Buckley Stadium. “I think we’re right there. This is the No. 19-ranked team. We came to their house, we rode a bus 5 hours, we were 42-point underdogs and we were a few plays away.

“I really feel good going into Thursday.”

Maurice Reed rushed for 139 yards on 35 carries and scored the Tigers’ lone touchdown from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Wriley Madden got the start at quarterback for Belton (0-3) in place of Ruben Jimenez and completed 12 of 24 passes for 88 yards.

Kanyn Utley caught a team-high six passes for 42 yards for Belton, which had 10 first downs after halftime.

“We kept our energy up the entire game. No one thought we were out of the game, even in the fourth quarter,” Reed said. “I’m proud that we kept on fighting and we just didn’t quit.”

Lee (3-0) was bolstered by an emotional performance from Shemar Davis, who ran for 171 yards, scored on an 11-yard run and caught four passes for 47 yards after learning his older brother Sema’J — who plays football for Abilene Christian and played at Midland Lee — was involved in a life-threatening car accident Friday night and was in a hospital in Fort Worth.

Davis decided to wear No. 9 rather than his usual No. 13 jersey in honor of his brother.

“This was an emotional game for me tonight. I just put it all on the line tonight,” Davis said. “If he would have been here, he would have clowned me a little for not scoring more touchdowns. But it was tough. I shed a few tears before the game and at times during the game. It was all for him tonight.”

The Tigers had four offensive possessions that lasted 10 plays or more. After trailing 19-0 at halftime, Belton stopped the Rebels on a fourth-down attempt and followed with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Reed’s TD with less than 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

The rally was short lived as Davis opened Lee’s next drive with a 58-yard run to the Belton 11 and scored on the next play to cap the scoring.

Lee, which scored 54 points in its season opener and 31 last week, took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 23-yard field goal, then made it 11-0 with a 26-yard scoring pass from Mikey Serrano to Michael Valles and a 2-point conversion. Serrano scored again on a 2-yard TD run that made it 19-0.

“They’re getting better. That’s a new staff at Belton. I know those coaches over there and I know they’re going to do a good job,” Lee head coach Clint Hartman said. “They’re going to figure it out. It takes time, but they’re on the right track.”

MIDLAND LEE 26, BELTON 7

Belton 0 0 7 0 — 7

Lee 3 16 7 0 — 26

Lee — Gunner Meade 23 field goal

Lee — Michael Valles 26 pass from Mikey Serrano (Shemar Davis run)

Lee — Serrano 2 run (Davis run)

Bel — Maurice Reed 1 run (Zach White kick)

Lee — Davis 11 run (Gunner Meade kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

Bel Lee

First downs 16 18

Rushes-yards 49-156 25-218

Passing yards 88 170

Comp.-Att.-Int. 12-24-2 16-26-1

Punts-average 2-35 1-36

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-yards 11-85 7-65

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Belton, Reed 35-139, Wriley Madden 7-6, Scott Gurnett 2-5, Javier Luna 2-3, Bryan Henry 1-2, LJ Underwood 2-1. Lee, Davis 14-171, Serrano 6-67, Addison Akbar 4-0, team 1-(minus 20).

PASSING—Belton, Madden 12-24-2-88. Lee, Serrano 16-26-1-170.

RECEIVING—Belton, Kanyn Utley 6-42, Reed 3-31, Henry 2-11, Ritchie Willess 1-4. Lee, Christian Romero 3-54, Davis 4-47, Valles 2-33, JuJu Rivas 1-19, Nathion Suttle 2-9, Akbar 3-8.

DISTRICT 12-6A OVERALL STANDINGS

Shoemaker 2-0

Bryan 1-0

Harker Heights 2-1

Temple 2-1

Killeen 1-1

Copperas Cove 1-2

Ellison 1-2

Belton 0-3

Thursday’s Games

  • Ellison 44, Hurst Bell 20
  • Montgomery Lake Creek at Bryan, ccd.

Friday’s Games

  • Arlington Martin 43, Temple 25
  • Copperas Cove 41, Granbury 22
  • Harker Heights 20, Boerne-Champion 14
  • Killeen at Waco, ccd.
  • Midland Lee 26, Belton 7
  • Shoemaker 56, Kerrville Tivy 35

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