First Half Play by Play, Ron Davis. Color, Lee LeBresche
Second Half Play by Play, Ron Davis. Color Lee LeBresche
Story from Butte Sports
By Derek Hendrickson
MILES CITY — The Butte Central Maroons fell on the road to the undefeated Eastern A champion Miles City Cowboys 42-20 Saturday afternoon at Connors Stadium.
The Maroons hung with the Cowboys through much of the first half but Miles City scored on 5 straight possessions spanning the second and third quarters and Central couldn’t keep up.
“We had a hard time stopping their explosive offense,” said a dejected Maroon Head Coach Don Peoples Jr. after the game, “but I think our kids played really hard.”
The Maroons battled to a scoreless tie after one quarter. Central jumped on a first possession fumble as Cal Hollow came up with a mishandled snap.
Sophomore Dylan Shea sacked Matthew Blunt to end the second Miles City offensive series.
Central struggled with pass protection as well early on as the athletic Cowboy defensive line forced sacks on both of the Maroons’ first two possessions.
The Cowboys finally broke through but not without a bit of controversy, at least in the eyes of the Central sideline.
On second and 10 from the Maroon 15 an unsportsmanlike conduct call went against the Central bench, marching off half the distance. After stuffing a run and getting an illegal motion call it was third and 9 from the 14.
The Central D line forced a quick throw that went toward the back of the end zone and certainly appeared to hit the ground before being snatched up by Wyatt Lesh. The referees consulted but didn’t change the touchdown call made by the back judge. Blunt plowed in the conversion and put the Cowboys up 8-0.
The Maroons wasted little time responding. Blake Burton ran twice for a first down and then Tanner Kump found Cole Harper streaking down the middle of the field for 45 yards and then hit a wide open Cal Hollow on a misdirection play where Central appeared to want to set up a screen and Hollow snuck behind everyone. The point after was blocked but the Maroons cut the lead to 8-6.
Central had a shot to get the ball back on a third and 12 play but a Cowboys screen was well set up and Jacob Morris made the first of several big plays by him, taking the short throw 41 yards. Tyler Burk busted off a 39 yard run on the next play all the way to the 1. The Maroons held on first and second down. At the end of the second play a Cowboy was initially flagged for a late hit but they got a break as the officials called matching unsportsmanlike infractions and Blunt finally punched it in on third down.
Reminiscent of two weeks ago at Dillon, the Maroons couldn’t stop the bleeding once it started.
The third Cowboy’s sack of the half pinned the Maroons deep and Miles City got the ball back at the Central 40 with under two minutes in the half.
This time there was no question of a completed pass as Lesh got behind the Central secondary for a wide open touchdown catch to give the Cowboys a two score lead and all the momentum heading into the locker room.
The Maroons badly needed to get something going early and got the ball first to start the second half, but quickly punted away and Miles City took over at midfield.
Five plays later and Morris scampered in from 20 yards out putting Miles City up 3 scores at 28-6.
Central never flinched in the face of the large deficit. Much like their first scoring drive they finally hit on a few big pass plays after Burton loosened the defense up with some hard-nosed rushing yards. Hollow hauled in a pass for 24 followed by 15 for Harper. The Maroons called an option run on the ensuing first down and Burton broke several tackles down the right sideline for a 21 yard score. A nifty reverse saw Harper end up with the ball and throw an out route back the quarterback Kump and it was 28-14 midway through the third.
Unfortunately for BC, the Maroon D never could get the big play they needed to put pressure on the Cowboys. This drive was all power as Miles City dialed up 9 straight run plays for 71 yards and put up their 5th score in 5 drives to again take a 22 point lead.
Central put together a long drive but couldn’t convert on 4th down from the Cowboy 15 to get back in the game.
“We had a couple scoring opportunities we didn’t take advantage of that could’ve kept things our way,” Peoples said about a few of the stalled drives Central endured.
Miles City finally bogged down on their next possession but it was still costly on Central as the Cowboys methodically took over 6 minutes off the clock before failing on 4th and 4 inside Central territory.
The Maroons went for home runs but swung and missed on 4 straight pass attempts to give the ball right back to the Cowboys after 19 seconds.
This time the Cowboys put the game away as Jared Bartlett broke what seemed like 10 tackles through the heart of the Maroon defense from 21 yards out.
Central made their last drive of the 2015 season a successful one. Burton started things with a strong kick return to the 43 and Nate McGree caught 2 passes to get the Maroons in close before taking a pitch and running in the last 5 yards with just over a minute left.
Miles City was able to jump on the onside kick attempt and run the clock out.
“They’re a very good team and being at home is a big advantage at any level of football and that was a factor today,” Peoples said about the Cowboys and the long Maroon road trip that saw the Central faithful fill the visiting bleachers on a beautiful fall day in Eastern Montana.
Miles City advances to semifinals next week when they will host Whitefish, who the Maroons beat in the same round last year. The Cowboys are 10-0 on the season. Whitefish is 9-1, with their lone defeat being a 22-21 defeat at home against Dillon. The Bulldogs won at home against Sidney 24-0 today.
The Beavers punished Billings Central 32-7 on Saturday and will host Havre. Miles City also put in a strong performance against Billing Central, beating the Rams 34-7 earlier in the regular season. The Blue Ponies crushed Columbia Falls 47-13 in Havre.
Peoples, as always, had high praise for his graduating seniors, saying “I really want to congratulate our seniors, they were a great part of our program for four years.”
Central sees their season come to an end along with the careers of seniors Cal Hollow, Cole Harper, Colin McArthur, Tyler Kump, Kyle Harrington, Jake Michelotti, Kyle Schulte, Liam Devine and Ethan St. John.
“I’m just really proud of our coaches and kids for working so hard and overcoming a lot of things this year,” Peoples said about the season as a whole. “Losing Kyle Harrington early in the year and yet we found a way to win a lot of football games and make it to the state semifinals.”
The Maroons will look to rebuild their lines but will have the majority of their skill positions spoken for next year with returning players, including the quarterback, both running backs and one wide receiver.
“That’s the way we do things,” said Peoples when asked about the future. “We say goodbye to wonderful seniors but we’ll line it up and do it again next year.”
Butte Central 0 6 8 6 — 42
Miles City 0 20 18 6 — 20
MC — Lesh 14 yard reception from Blunt (Blunt run) 8-0. 8:24. Drive 11 plays, 63 yards, 4:11
BC — Hollow 29 yard reception from Kump (kick failed) 8-6. 6:22. Drive 4 plays, 81 yards, 2:04
MC — Blunt 1 yard run (run failed) 14-6. 3:52. Drive 7 plays, 79 yards, 2:00
MC — Lesh 40 yard reception from Blunt (run failed) 20-6. 1:53. Drive 2 plays, 40 yards, :11
MC — Morris 20 yard run (Giovanetti reception from Blunt) 28-6. 8:58. Drive 5 plays, 50 yards, 1:36
BC —Burton 21 yard run (Kump reception from Harper) 28-14. 7:10. Drive 5 plays, 64 yards, 1:42
MC — Bartlett 3 yard run (Blunt run) 36-14. 3:12. Drive 9 plays, 58 yards,
MC — Bartlett 21 yard run (pass failed). 42-14. 3:28. Drive 3 plays, 28 yards, 1:12
BC — McGree 5 yard run (pass failed). 42-20. 1:12. Drive 6 plays, 37 yards, 1:43
PASSING — BC, Kump 13-27-0-173. MC, Blunt 11-15-0-150.
RUSHING — BC, Burton 11-55, Moodry 9-55, Harper 1-22, McGree 1-5, Kump 10-(-10). MC, Bartlett 13-104, Burk 4-71, Blunt 13-40, Morris 7-33.
RECEIVING — BC, Harper 4-79, McGree 4-57, Hollow 2-36, Moodry 2-11, Burton 1-2. MC, Morris 6-80, Lesh 2-54, Petross 1-8, Burk 2-2.