Belhaven gave East Texas Baptist a good fight Saturday but in the end, it was the Tigers who came away with a 28-17 win over the Blazers at Ornelas Stadium.
ETBU is now 2-2 overall and 2-1 in American Southwest Conference play. Belhaven currently holds an overall record of 1-4 and 1-3 against conference opponents.
“Just us coming together and finding a way to finish,” ETBU head football coach Brian Mayper said. “We talk about playing hard and we played hard but there was like a lull for some reason and we just couldn’t get over it but we were fighting.
“Our kids are resilient and they kept pursuing and as long as we keep pursuing, then we’ll have a chance and when it came down to it, we just made plays. We made a play and scored when we had to and defensively, we made several goal line stances again and some key stops.”
ETBU had 319 yards of total offense, 427 of which came through the air and 72 yards on the ground.
The Tigers had 15 first downs on the day.
ETBU quarterback Brian Baca went 16-of-26 for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
Jalen Blanton had six catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.
Davion Carter caught six passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.
The Blazers had 390 of total yards, 242 rushing yards, 148 passing yards and 23 first downs in the contest.
Brad Foley had 153 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.
Mario Asagunla went 15-of-33 for 148 yards, one touchdown and one sack.
He also had 24 carries for 101 yards. He connected through the air with Fabien Willaims six times for 72 yards.
LaMarcus Caradine had five receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Belhaven received the opening kickoff before driving deep into ETBU territory. The Blazers got inside the five-yard line but the Tigers’ defense forced Belhaven to settle for three points as Cade Ganey split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal.
That gave his team a 3-0 lead with 10:42 to play in the first quarter.
ETBU’s first drive came to an end when it was forced to punt the ball back to the Blazers but it didn’t take long for the Tigers to get the ball back as the repaid the favor of forcing a punt.
Once that happened, it only took two plays for the Tigers to drive 87 yards to the end zone.
Baca found Blanton for an 85-yard strike to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead. The extra point from Alberto Garcia made it 7-3 with 2:10 to play in the opening quarter.
The Tigers added to their lead when Baca found Carter for a 58-yard touchdown, making the score 14-3 with 10:52 left remaining in the second quarter.
Asangula scrambled around in the pocket before dumping it off to a wide open Caradine in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
That cut ETBU’s lead to 14-10 with 6:05 left in the first half.
The Blazers jumped back on top when Foley broke loose for a 58-yard score with 4:02 remaining in the first half.
That was the final score of the first half as the two teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with Belhaven leading, 17-14.
The first touchdown of the second half came when Baca dished it off to Paul for a two-yard score to give the lead back to the Tigers, 21-17, with 9:57 left in the third quarter.
The next touchdown didn’t come until 8:01 was left in the fourth quarter.
Belhaven had its back to the end zone when it coughed up a loose ball that was recovered in the end zone by Zach Pike for an ETBU touchdown to spread the Tigers’ lead to 28-17.
ETBU was holding onto its lead as Belhaven was trying to drive downfield, hoping for a miracle with under a minute left.
The Tigers put the nail in the coffin when Azaya Patrick picked off a pass to give it back to the Tigers’ offense.
ETBU took a knee to finalize the 28-17 win.
The Tigers will return to action on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. when they take on Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Belhaven will play host to Southwestern.