DUNCANVILLE — Playing in its first playoff game since 2018, Belton knew it would take everything it had to stay with Class 6A powerhouse Duncanville on Friday night at Panther Stadium.
The Tigers did at times in the first half, using a Trent West interception and a well-timed trick play for a touchdown to keep the Panthers in sight through one quarter.
But in the end, Duncanville ultimately proved too deep, using a 28-point outburst in the second quarter to distance itself in an eventual 63-7 win over Belton in a 6A Division I bi-district game.
The Tigers (6-5) ended the season with a winning record for the first time in three years, while the Panthers (9-1) advanced to the area round to face either Mesquite or Garland Sachse.
Duncanville, which got three touchdown passes from Solomon James and 113 yards rushing from Malachi Medlock in the first half, has won 16 playoff games since 2018, including a 6A-DI state championship in 2019. The Panthers advanced to the area round for the sixth straight season.
“They’re good. They have the all-star team in the Dallas area and they’re pretty dang good,” Belton head coach Brett Sniffin said. “We played who we had to play, but we’re dang glad to be here. Nobody thought we’d be here. We came out and fought tonight and I’m proud of our kids.”
Although Belton gave up a touchdown on Duncanville’s game-opening drive and followed that with a three-and-out, it responded on the Panthers’ following possession when senior Trent West made an acrobatic interception of a James pass on third-and-10 from the Belton 34-yard line.
The Tigers then broke into their bag of tricks on the next play when Ty Brown took the snap then pitched it back well behind the line of scrimmage to Slade LeBlanc, who found Seth Morgan all alone down the right sideline for a 79-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 7 with 4:21 left in the first.
For a brief moment, the momentum looked to swing in Belton’s favor.
“We gave it all we had and scored against their first-team defense. That’s something to be proud of,” Sniffin said. “We like to have fun. Football’s a fun game, so we have a couple trick plays each game. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Seth ran for his life and got in there. I was glad he was able to finish up the way he’d played all year. That was awesome.”
Following the score, Belton appeared to recover a surprise onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but penalties for offside and for touching the ball before 10 yards negated the play, giving Duncanville the ball at the Tigers 44.
The Panthers constructed an eight-play scoring drive, all of them rushes, to claim a 14-7 lead on Medlock’s 3-yard plunge with 35 seconds left in the opening quarter.
It was the final lead change of the game.
West later picked off another James pass midway through the second quarter on a ball that tipped off the hands of a Duncanville receiver, but the turnover didn’t lead to any points.
The Panthers quickly pulled away in the second quarter and, with Duncanville leading 42-7 at halftime, both teams agreed to a running clock in the second half.
After experiencing playoff football, Sniffin said he is happy with the foundation being built in Belton.
“The best part was leaving the school today, seeing the school spirit and we had the band and cheer and dance and everybody was out there,” Sniffin said. “For the kids to see that, we want more of that. We want to do it again next year and not just one time. We want to build on that and get a couple wins under our belt in the playoffs.”
DUNCANVILLE 63, BELTON 7
Belton 7 0 0 0 — 7
Duncanville 14 28 7 14 — 63
Dun — Davion Bluitt 22 pass from Solomon James (Armando Benitez kick)
Bel — Seth Morgan 79 pass from Slade LeBlanc (Zach White kick)
Dun — Malachi Medlock 3 run (Benitez kick)
Dun — Lontrell Turner 12 pass from James (Benitez kick)
Dun — Deldrick Madison 64 interception return (Benitez kick)
Dun — Jameir Willis 32 run (Benitez kick)
Dun — Dakorien Moore 34 pass from James (Benitez kick)
Dun — Mar’Kel Porter 1 run (Benitez kick)
Dun — Kaleb Kenney 1 run (Benitez kick)
Dun — Elijah Wilson fumble recovery in end zone (Benitez kick)
First downs 2 17
Rushes-yards 19-(-18) 32-289
Passing yards 102 131
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-12-2 9-14-2
Punts-average 5-27.4 0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-7 6-70
RUSHING — Belton: LeBlanc 7-3, Elijah Warner 7-1, Javier Luna 2-1, Ty Brown 3-(-23); Duncanville: Medlock 13-113, Willis 5-55, Caden Durham 5-42, Kenney 4-32, Porter 2-32, Jayvyn Square 2-27, James 1-(12).
PASSING — Belton: Brown 3-11-2-23, LeBlanc 1-1-0-79; Duncanville: James 7-12-2-104, Willis 2-2-0-27.
RECEIVING — Belton: Morgan 2-82, Bryan Henry 1-17, LeBlanc 1-3; Duncanville: Bluitt 3-38, Turner 4-38, Moore 1-34, Tyren Polley 1-21.