Broncs edge Bulldogs, 30-27

BILLINGS – In keeping with the recent tradition of tight finishes, Butte High and Billings Senior’s football teams saw Friday night’s opening game of the Class AA grid season come down to the wire.

Unlike the last few years, however, Butte High didn’t pull out the win in the end, this time falling 30-27 under the lights at Daylis Stadium in the Magic City.

Butte had its chances, the last of which was a hail-Mary pass from junior Butte quarterback Dylan Cook that was nearly caught by senior receiver Brock LaPier, but the ball found its way into the hands of a Senior defender, effectively ending the game in the final minute.

That player, junior Nathan Dick, saw his first start at quarterback on the offensive side of the ball, and scored what turned out to be the game winner seconds earlier on a 28-yard sweep to the left. It appeared that the play might come back due to a Senior penalty, but officials waved off a pair of flags in the Bronc backfield.

Cook, who made his first varsity start for the Bulldogs after the departure of his older brother Dallas, threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers, as well as scoring on a 1-yard sneak.

Butte head coach Arie Grey said he was proud of how his team battled to the end, but admitted the Bulldogs still have plenty of work ahead so early in the season.

“We’ve got a lot to shore up at practice,” Grey said. “We’ve got to go back and get better.”

Neither team came out of the blocks particularly quickly, as Senior turned the ball over on downs on its first possession and Butte punted and fumbled away its first two tries. The Broncs got on the board first when the Bulldogs were forced to punt from their own 1-yard line. Cook took the snap and the punt went off the back of one of the Bulldog upbacks, who were closer than usual due to the tight quarters. The punt bounced back out of bounds, giving Senior a 2-0 edge.

The Bulldog defense then held fast and Cook engineered an 80-yard drive that included a beautiful 40-yard rainbow pass to sophomore Kiley Caprara. The drive ended on a nice 13-yard pass to the corner where Connor Lane was waiting after having shaken his defender yards earlier.

The teams went to intermission with Butte leading 7-2, but the Broncs put together a 65-yard drive to open the second half that saw Dick run for 29 yards and pass for 11 more. Though the youngster fumbled the ball three times on the drive, the Broncs recovered each one including the last, where Dick took the recovery in from two yards out.

Butte responded as Campbell got the Bulldog offense fired up with a catch and run, making a nice play for first down. Three of Campbell’s seven catches came on the drive, including the last, a 24-yard scoring strike from Cook over the middle.

The Bulldog defense came up big on Senior’s first play from scrimmage after the kick return, as Clay Dean caused Nolan Timmons to fumble, and freshman defensive lineman Greyson Mandic was there to pick up the ball.

The turnover led to another Butte score, this one a pass from Cook to senior Dalton Daum, who got perfect separation from his defender in the corner of the end zone, where he fell gently to the turf with the ball cradled in his grasp. Daum finished with six catches for 99 yards.

Butte’s defensive unit faltered on Senior’s next drive, as Kaelen Shay made a second and third effort on a 15-yard touchdown run, but overall, the Bulldog defenders showed great signs for the upcoming season. The ‘Dogs saw great play at linebacker from Tyler Wonnacott, who was in on seemingly every tackle. Sophomore down lineman Jake Moore batted down a pair of passes and also registered a tackle for loss, while Justin Peterson and Kyle Andrews also made their presence felt by the Senior offense.

The Bulldogs held a tenuous 20-17 edge midway through the final quarter when Dick found freshman Gabe Sulser open on the sidelines, and the speedy youngster ran in the tail end of the 59-yard touchdown play.

Butte scored again on Cook’s sneak, set up by a nice draw up the middle by Daum, only to see the lead again evaporate on Dick’s 28-yard scamper.

Though disappointed in the final outcome, Grey found pieces to build on in the coming week.

“Dylan played well, and I thought he did a good job managing the game,” Grey noted. “Under pressure, he made some plays with his feet.”

The Bulldogs have slightly less than a week left to begin preparation for their home opener next Friday evening at Naranche Stadium, as Butte plays host to perennial power Helena Capital, which rolled over Missoula Hellgate 36-6 in both teams’ season opener. Kickoff for the Bulldog-Bruin battle is slated for 7 p.m. next Friday.


Butte High               0    7   13   7 — 27
Billings Senior        2   0   15   13 — 30
First quarter

Senior – blocked punt out of end zone, 4:10.
Second quarter
Butte – Connor Lane 13 pass from Dylan Cook (Sean Staples kick), 11:01.
Third quarter
Senior – Nathan Dick 2 run (Nolan Timmons run), 7:43.
Butte – Paul Campbell 24 pass from Cook (Staples kick), 5:15.
Butte – Dalton Daum 18 pass from Cook (kick fail), 3:18.
Senior – Kaelen Shay 15 run (Sam Sparks kick), 1:42/
Fourth quarter
Senior – Gabe Sulser 59 pass from Dick (Sparks kick), 6:48.
Butte – Cook 1 run (Staples kick), 3:41.
Senior – Dick 27 run (kick fail), 1:20.
Butte           Senior
First downs                      21                17
Rushing                           17-33          50-256
Passing                             22-40-2       11-19-0
Passing yards                   299              122
Total offense                   332              378
Fumbles-lost                    5-0              3-1
Penalties                          7-55            7-77
Individual statistics
– Butte: Mason Ruppel 9-19, Dalton Daum 5-11, Dylan Cook 11-4, Clay Dean 2-(minus-1). Senior: Nathan Dick 16-84, Kaelen Shay 17-80, Nolan Timmons 11-47, Sam Sparks 2-20, Jake Showers 2-18, Gabe Sulser 1-4, Beau Thomas 1-3.
PASSING – Butte: Dylan Cook 22-40-299-2. Senior: Nathan Dick 10-117-0, Jake Showers 1-2-5-0.
RECEIVING – Butte: Paul Campbell 7-88, Connor Lane 7-66, Dalton Daum 6-99, Kiley Caprara 1-40, Mason Ruppel 1-6. Senior: Tyger Frye 5-31, Gabe Sulser 2-63, Connor Gaughan 2-10, Nolan Timmons 1-7, Beau Thomas 1-11. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Alan
    August 30, 2014, 9:12 am

    Good write up, Pat. The only one in Butte…kudos. Are those the new decals?


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