By Bruce Sayler
Hamilton flexed its No. 1 muscle Friday night and did it on Butte Central’s home field, on the Maroons’ homecoming.
The Broncs chalked up their 15th straight win with a 42-0 Western A Conference high school football victory over BC on Bob Green Field at Montana Tech. Hamilton reigns as the defending state Class A champion and is 4-0 this season after its undefeated championship campaign of a season ago.
The loss was costly to Butte Central. Senior running back Konnor Pochervina and senior wide receiver Kyle Holter both aggravated injuries and missed some playing time, Pochervina sitting out most of the second half. Junior quarterback Jack Keeley was hurt even more seriously, suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder while being tackled on a near-sack early in the second quarter.
Maroons head coach Don Peoples Jr. said the seriousness of the separation is not yet known, but Keeley missed the rest of the game. Senior Rye Doherty left a wide receiver spot to take over at quarterback.
“The Keeley situation really changed the ballgame,” Peoples said. “It’s a shoulder separation and it’s his throwing shoulder, so it is worrisome. “
Hamilton stopped a BC drive on Butte Central’s first possession with a pass interception by Isaiah Van de Baan that gave the Broncs the ball at their own 46-yard line after Van de Baan’s 17-yard return. Five play later, Andrew Frederick tunneled through the line into the end zone and quarterback Tyson Bauder tallied a two-point conversion on a keeper.
Hamilton got the ball back on a punt and had a 16-0 lead after Bauder’s 4-yard bolt up the middle for a a drive-capping touchdown and kicker Taylor Searle took a direct snap in for a two-point conversion on a trick play.
“They got a couple of touchdowns on the board and then I thought our defense hunkered down,” Peoples said. “Losing a great quarterback, though, changed the ballgame and Hamilton is a great football team.”
The Broncs’ defense held the Maroons to 54 total yards, and stuffed the BC running game behind the line of scrimmage. Butte Central was shackled with minus-5 yards rushing for the game. Bauder scored on two keepers from inside the 10-yard line and Frederick reached the end zone from 14 yards away as Hamilton left the field at halftime with a 35-0 bulge.
The clock ran continuously – except on team and injury timeouts — on the 35-point difference rule the whole second half. The only scoring play after intermission was a 39-yard pass play, Bauder to Van de Baan, in the third quarter.
Hamilton head coach Bryce Carver said a scare last week against Frenchtown convinced the Broncs they needed to be ready for the trip to Butte to play the Maroons. Hamilton edged Frenchtown 27-20 with a come-from-behind rally.
“Frenchtown gave us a good game and we straightened some things out,” said the former Dillon star quarterback who later played receiver for Montana. “Anytime you play Butte Central, you have to be ready. We practiced hard this week and then got off to a hot start tonight.”
The Broncs snatched away five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumble recoveries to create opportunities to capitalize on for touchdowns, or time-consuming possessions.
“Turnovers are such a big momentum-changer,” Carver said. “And once we got the points, we were able to just run the ball and run the clock.”
Homecoming king Cayden Kibler led line play on the Butte Central defense while the linebacking corps of Zane Moodry, Pochervina and Doherty played well, especially in the early surge that temporarily stymied the Broncs. Bauder completed just five of 11 passes as the Maroon secondary had a good overall game.
Butte Central’s offense reached no further than the Broncs’ 46-yard line and crossed the 50-yard line on only two possessions, a tribute to Hamilton’s staunch defense.
“Konnor was hobbling and, just because of caution, we kept him out of the game the second half,” Peoples said. “The kids kept their heads up and stayed positive. We have a lot of football left.”
Doherty wound up as his team’s leading receiver with two catches for 39 yards before moving to quarterback. Holter passed once, completing a 25-yard play to Doherty on a halfback pass, to top the team passing stats.
The loss put the Maroons’ record at 1-3. They will play at Corvallis next Friday.
“We will regroup and be ready to play next week,” Peoples said. “Our kids aren’t going to quit.”
Hamilton 16 19 7 0 – 42
Butte Central 0 0 0 0 — 0
HAM – Andrew Frederick 2 run (Tyson Bauder run), 5:50. Drive – 54 yards in 5 plays. Key play – Isaiah Van de Baan intercepted Butte Central pass and returned it to the Hamilton 46-yard line.
HAM – Tyson Bauder 4 run (Taylor Searle run), 2:16. Drive – 54 yards in 7 plays. Key play – Eli Taylor 44-yard pass from Bauder to Butte Central 5-yard line.
HAM – Bauder 9 run (Searle kick), 5:51. Drive – 60 yards in 3 plays. Key play – Taylor 29-yard pass from Bauder to Butte Central 9-yard line.
HAM – Isaiah Van de Baan 39 pass from Bauder (run failed), 3:43. Drive – 39 yards in 1 play. Key play – scoring play.
HAM –Frederick 14 run (kick blocked), 3:21. Drive – 14 yards in 2 plays. Key play – Noah Johnson recovered Butte Central fumble at Butte Central 14-yard line.
HAM – Taylor 32 pass from Bauder (Searle kick), 6:13. Drive – 59 yards in 7 plays. Key play – scoring play.
First downs 11 5
Rushes-yards 30-143 17-(-5)
Passes 5-11-0 7-16-3
Passing yards 150 59
Total yards 293 54
Return yards 88 8
Punts-avg. 5-37.0 6-36.1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-2
Penalties-yards 3-20 3-12
RUSHING – Hamilton, Andrew Frederick 12-85, Tyson Bauder 5-44, Clayton Beall 4-16, Jesse Anson 4-10, Malachai Jackson 1-3, Taylor Nead 1-2, Team 4-(-17). Butte Central, Rye Doherty 4-6, Justus McGee 4-5, Jack Keeley 1-0, Konnor Pochervina 7-(-3), Kyle Holter 3-(-6), Team 1-(-7).
PASSING – Hamilton, Bauder 5-11-0-150. Butte Central, Holter 1-1-0-25, Keeley 4-9-1-24, Doherty 2-6-2-10.
RECEIVING – Hamilton, Eli Taylor 4-111, Isaiah Van de Baan 1-39. Butte Central,
Doherty 2-39, Zane Moodry 2-12, Eric Loos 2-8, McGee 1-0.
TURNOVERS – Fumble recoveries: Hamilton 2 (Noah Johnson 1, Aaron Navarro 1), Butte Central 0. Pass interceptions – Hamilton 3 (Van de Baan 1, Taylor 1, Lucas Lant 1), Butte Central 0.