BELTON – A quick-hitting passing attack set up three fast scores as the Belton Pirates held off a late surge to beat Smith-Cotton, 28-17, Friday night at Southwick Stadium in a second round district playoff game.
Senior wide receiver Nick Snider led the way for Belton, scoring the Pirates’ first two touchdowns on 21- and 7-yard receptions from quarterback Bart Harris for an early 14-0 lead. The Tigers had trouble getting their offense moving, going three-and-out on their first two possessions.
S-C’s problems didn’t stop there, as a lost fumble gave the Pirates the ball on the Tigers’ 36 yard line at the start of the second quarter. A few plays later, Harris ran the ball in from three yards out to push Belton’s lead to 21-0 with 7:29 left in the first half.
S-C Head Coach Ryan Boyer said the Tigers were expecting Belton’s fast passing, but he credited the Pirates on their game plan.
“That’s how they get going and they executed it well,” Boyer said. “They kept chipping away. We told our guys to keep (Belton’s receivers) in front of us, to make them earn it. Once our guys settled in, they had a little more success.”
S-C started moving the ball, advancing to Belton’s 26 yard line with 1:51 left in the half, but a holding call pushed them back. Senior kicker Blake Grupe drilled a 47-yard field goal to get S-C on the board, trailing 21-3 at halftime.
Snider caught his third TD of the game, a 31-yard dump-and-run play up the middle to push the Pirates’ lead to 28-3 on their first possession of the second half. Fumble recoveries by S-C’s Tyshawn Ward and Brandon Neale led to Zach Powell touchdown runs of seven and four yards, but S-C’s onside kick attempts failed and Belton, who also knocked S-C out in the second round of districts last year, ran out the clock.
“We challenged our guys to leave it all out there in the second half, and we’re so pleased with their effort,” Boyer said. “It came down to who made the most plays and Belton did tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of our seniors and our whole team.”
The Tigers finished the year with a record of 5-5.