BELTON — A pair of offensive adjustments by Belton — moving running back D’emante Smith to wide receiver and starting Mike Davis in the backfield — created a spark for the Tigers, who surpassed last week’s 135 total yardage output by halftime against visiting Round Rock on Friday night.
The new approach only went so far, though, and the Tigers’ big plays were trumped by the Dragons, who used a 30-point second quarter as the catalyst in a 42-30 victory at Tiger Field that sent Belton to 0-2 heading into next week’s District 12-6A opener at Copperas Cove.
“We moved some things around to try to be more dynamic on offense,” Belton head coach Sam Skidmore said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot in the first half.”
Round Rock snapped a three-game losing streak to Belton, which had averaged 41 points in those contests.
“We had to flip the game last year and come here, and we just didn’t play well. I was embarrassed and the kids were embarrassed,” Round Rock coach Jeff Cheatham said, referring to last season’s matchup that was postponed a day because of rain and then moved from Round Rock to Belton because of field availability. “We felt like we needed to come out here and play as good as we could possibly play to be 2-0.”
The Dragons did that by gaining 541 yards overall and capitalizing on a handful of Belton miscues in the first half that helped toward a 30-10 advantage at the break.
Round Rock’s Israel Morgan overcame three lost fumbles with 203 yards rushing on 35 carries. Seth Ford completed 18 of 23 passes for 296 yards with two touchdown tosses to Collin Sullivan (10 for 168).
Belton, coming off a 48-0 loss to Austin Westlake, amassed 455 yards, including 232 on the ground led by quarterback Ruben Jimenez’s 130 and Davis’ 110 in his first start. Smith caught five passes for 142 yards and two scores, among those a 71-yard touchdown on third-and-22 that pulled Belton even at 10-all with 7:33 left in the second quarter.
But Round Rock countered 54 seconds later with Sullivan’s 72-yard fingertip catch and score, points that were part of the Dragons’ second-quarter outburst that was aided by a Belton fumble and bad snap on a punt. Round Rock turned those takeaways into 10 points.
“We’re just trying to get better every day. Taking the things we messed up on, the mistakes, correcting them and learning,” Jimenez said.
Logan Smith’s 33-yard field goal gave Belton the lead late the opening quarter, capping a drive that was set up by Jeremiah Wade’s forced fumble and Bryan Luna’s recovery deep in Tigers territory.
Round Rock then traveled 75 yards on nine plays and went ahead 7-3 through Ford’s 17-yard keeper.
Belton’s electrifying pass and catch between Jimenez (14-of-31, 223 yards, two TDs, one interception) and Smith followed, as did Sullivan’s long scoring catch, Morgan’s 2-yard TD run on fourth down to push the Dragons ahead 24-10 and Jordan Smart’s 9-yard TD jaunt on the receiver end-around two plays after the bad snap that gave Round Rock it’s halftime cushion.
Neither scored in a sloppy third, but Jimenez had rushing touchdowns of 5 and 59 yards and a 30-yard TD strike to Smith in the fourth. Sullivan and Smart had TDs for Round Rock in the final period.
“I told them I’ve never been prouder of a team for the way they came out and competed in the second half,” Skidmore said. “They came out and battled like a team I’ve never seen. That second-half team is the team I expect to see.”
ROUND ROCK 42, BELTON 30
Round Rock 0 30 0 12 — 42
Belton 3 7 0 20 — 30
Bel — Logan Smith 33 field goal
RR — Seth Ford 17 run (Beck Kipperman kick)
RR — Garrett Kalinowski 30 field goal
Bel — D’emante Smith 71 pass from Ruben Jimenez (L. Smith kick)
RR — Collin Sullivan 72 pass from Ford (Kalinowski kick)
RR — Israel Morgan 2 run (Kalinowski kick)
RR — Jordan Smart 9 run (pass failed)
Bel — Jimenez 5 run (L. Smith kick)
RR — Sullivan 35 pass from Ford (pass failed)
Bel — D.Smith 30 pass from Jimenez (L. Smith kick)
RR — Smart 10 run (kick failed)
Bel — Jimenez 59 run (run failed)
First downs 25 20
Rushes-yards 54-245 34-232
Passing yards 296 223
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-23-0 14-31-1
Punts-average 2-33 5-32.4
Fumbles-lost 4-3 3-1
Penalties-yards 14-134 9-76
RUSHING — Round Rock: Morgan 35-203, Smart 8-31, Ford 5-56, Trey King 3-16, Sullivan 1-(-5), team 2-(-10); Belton: Mike Davis 21-110, Jimenez 10-130, Nicholas Cipolla 2-17, team 1-(-25).
PASSING — Round Rock: Ford 18-23-0-296; Belton: Jimenez 14-31-1-223.
RECEIVING — Round Rock: Sullivan 10-168, Smark 5-70, Morgan 2-42, Matthew Teter 1-16; Belton: D.Smith 5-142, Luke Bramlett 6-48, Gunner Garrett 2-17, Davis 1-16.