Sep. 9—HUNTSVILLE — Despite having a 21-14 lead at the opening of the fourth quarter, Huntsville was unable to hold on to the lead as Belton scored 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points.
The Hornets opened the fourth quarter with the ball inside their five-yard line and after an offsides call, they had some breathing room. But then a fumble gave the Tigers the ball back and the tying score.
After another fumble and a stop, Huntsville saw senior Cole Schroeder take a punt to the house for 60 yards but it was called back for a block in the back. The ensuing play was another fumble that led to the go-ahead touchdown for Belton.
The Tigers' walked away with a 28-21 comeback victory against the Hornets (1-2).
"It boiled down to turnovers and penalties again," Huntsville head coach Rodney Southern said. "You can't blame it on one guy or one penalty. We have to fix that."
Penalties and turnovers played big against the Hornets, especially in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Braylon Phelps broke off a 49-yard big gain but remained in the game. Phelps would fumble on the next play before picking up a penalty flag that gave Belton the ball and another 15 yards.
Before the play, the Hornets had sophomore Trae'Shawn Brown ready to go in but was called off for Phelps.
The run game was still strong for Huntsville despite being down their starter for the majority of the game. Huntsville grabbed 180 yards on the ground with Phelps getting 80 of them.
"Braylon was running hard and running hard inside. Sometimes that is going to happen. I probably should have put Trae'Shawn in there to try and get Braylon a break," Southern said. "We just have to continue to do our ball security drills like we normally do."
Junior quarterback Austin Taylor took every rep under center after his breakout game last week where he threw 199 yards and three touchdowns. He tried to repeat that performance as he found senior Melton Green III for two more touchdowns and 65 yards.
Taylor accounted for 193 yards in the air and two scores.
"We thought he took a step last week and I thought the first half he played well," Southern said. "He probably took his eyes off that last ball and that is a mature thing, but he will learn from that. We were in the same situation we were in last year, the difference is we have a better football team right now."
Last season, the Hornets played this same game and this year they saw drastic improvements. The Hornets dropped the game 41-28 but the score is not indicative of the game.
This year, Huntsville has already played more physically with an experienced defense that held a tough opponent. Belton had a new quarterback in Reese Rumfield who made several strong plays.
Rumfield tossed for 202 yards and four scores, most of which were on deep balls that left Huntsville's secondary confused.
But the thing going forward is getting the defense off the field. Belton went 4-7 on fourth-down-conversions in the game, giving their offense more reps.
Huntsville's defense wasn't shy about making plays either. Junior Zack Moss, senior Hezekiah Johnson and sophomore Fred Oladele got into the backfield and caused several tackles for losses but it just wasn't enough.
"We are much more physical and I thought we tackled well again tonight," Southern said. "I thought our O-line played well but we will have to look at some pass protection. There is a lot of good and a lot of things we still have to fix."
As Huntsville nearly got revenge against Belton, they now have to try and bring the force against another team that blew them out of the water last year.
The Hornets battled Clear Springs after the Chargers grabbed the 46-18 win over the Hornets.
"We will watch this and try to fix the things we can fix tomorrow," Southern said. "Then we will go to the drawing board and see what Clear Springs looks like and what they present."
Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Elliot T. Bowers Stadium.