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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Knights fall short against Belton Tigers

Knights fall short against Belton Tigers

Allen Fisher

Evening Star

No football team ever wants start your 8-6A district opener with a loss, or come off that loss to play against the eighth state-ranked, undefeated district leaders.

But that’s the predicament Harker Heights finds themselves in after a second-half rally put Belton up 49-28 Thursday night last week at home and now the Knights travel to Midway to take on last year’s district champs today.

It seems everyone blamed themselves for the second-half breakdown, from Knights head coach Jerry Edwards, to running back Jameel Hodges,

“My offensive line was great tonight, first and second half,” Hodges said. “Just hats off to Belton. Second half was mainly on me, I’m to blame for that fumble.”

But with Hodges putting down 234 yards rushing with three touchdowns in the first half alone, there shouldn’t be too much guilt on his shoulders. Knights offense averaged 10 yards a gain while defense was able to stay ahead on time of possession to put the Knights up by one point at halftime, but nine turnovers are what cost the Harker Heights most.

Edwards believes everything comes back to the head coach and sights that a fourth down conversion call late in the third quarter was a key point in the game.

“This loss is on me. I went for it on fourth-and-short, and it was still a pretty tight game at that point,” “That was a mistake on my part. We should have punted it and played the field-position game, so this is my fault.”

Down by six points, Edwards sent his offense out for a fourth-and-one attempt at midfield, but the Tigers put up the stop and then put up 22 unanswered-points to seal the victory.

Turnovers started out in the Knights’ favor as Belton’s first snap was put on the ground at midfield. It took only one play for Hodges to break free for a 48-yard rushing touchdown.

After exchanging punts, Knights were driving down the field until T.J. Gift made an interception. Tigers capitalized to tie the score a few plays later when Belton quarterback Conner Carother sent it by air to junior Anthony Fairbanks in the end zone from six yards out. It would be Carother’s first of four touchdowns on the night and connecting 23 of 33 passes for 217 yards.

Harker Heights turned the ball over again on their following possession when Micheal Collier lost the ball to have it pick up by Tigers defensive lineman Clayton Blank.

Knights answered with a scoring drive of their own when Hodges found the end zone for his second rushing touchdown from the Tigers’ 16-yardline to tie it at 14 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.

Carothers countered with his second passing touchdown, this one to Chandler Vela for 13 yards.

Harker Heights didn’t let up and replied with back-to-back drives around a Tigers’ punt. After Hodges had a big carry into the red zone, Macel Ramirez capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown. Hodges was there to take it in himself on Knights’ next drive for 17 yards and retook the lead.

Rain really started to poor in the middle of the second quarter, but Belton still managed a couple of field goals, 33 and 28 yards out, from Nyle Tabat to make it 28-27 at the half.

Harker Heights were putting a drive together to open the third quarter, but as Hodges was headed for the end zone on a break-away run, he was side-swiped by a Tiger defender to lose the ball at Belton’s 12-yardline.

Carother lead his Belton offense 10 plays down the field and finished it with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Brown.

After that key fourth down conversion, Carother only took plays to find the end zone again for 11-yard pass to Denver Holeman with the extra two points by Marshall Fish.

Tigers running back Darren Rector, with 85-rushinig yards, recorded the last touchdown of the night after an interception. Belton would finish with three interception and 4 fumble recoveries on the night.

“Turnovers, we’ve got to do a better job at getting our kids ready and protect the football“ Edwards said.

“I didn’t get the kids prepared. That’s my fault, that’s on me.”

The Knights are on their third loss going into tonight’s game against the Panthers while Midway will be looking to pick up their sixth-straight win.

“Midway was is real tough and physical,” said Edwards “They have some players that will be play division 1 football next year.”

Knights will again have to be ready for a passing game as Midway attacks as often through the air as they do the ground with the most offensive yards in district at 2411 yards total, 1386 of those yards through the air from Midway Senior Tanner Mordecai at 15 touchdowns and 105 completions of 178.

The rushing game for Midways will be lead by junior James Fullbright coming in second in district rushing at 77 carries for 587.

But it’s Harker Heights’ Jameel Hodges that leading the rushing at 103 carries for 705 yards.

“We’ve got to learn how to play as a team and not a bunch of individuals,” Hodges said.

Knights will start kickoff at 7:30p.m. Friday in Midway.


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