Butte High’s defense was eager to prove to the stat they’re better than two weeks worth of stats.
Zach Bunney wanted to show people he’s still an explosive running back.
Both those happened — and then some — Friday night at Naranche Stadium as the Bulldogs rolled to a 42-0 Silver B’s Night victory over Missoula Hellgate.
Bunney scored on runs of 75 and 40 yards — on consecutive carries — in the third to help the Bulldogs (2-1) pull away.
“I was waiting all year to finally bust a big run and get back to the way it used to be,” said the senior running back who missed most of last season fighting leukemia. “I’m just glad it happened.”
Bunney’s 75-yard jaunt came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. He took the sweep right and outraced the Knight defense down the sideline to the west end zone.
“That first series (of the second half) was the most important drive of the whole game. We needed to capitalize on that, and we did,” Bunney said. “That pretty much just shut the door and told them, ‘This is our house.'”
That score made it 28-0. It also shook away any doubt after Butte High built a 21-0 lead despite three turnovers and a what seemed like a dozen dropped passes.
“The defense kept us going all night,” Butte High coach Arie Grey said. “The offense was feeding off the defense instead of the other way around. That’s nice. It’s a good thing to see them play really well.”
Bunney’s next touch, which came with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter, went left for a 40-yard score.
“It’s neat for Bunney because we know that’s what he can do,” Bunney said. “That burst was back.”
Senior Joe Blunt busted through the middle for a 13-yard TD run to cap the scoring late in the third.
As it turns out, Butte High didn’t need those points thanks to a defense playing with a chip firmly on its shoulder.
Butte High’s defense was coming off a 55-48 loss at Billings Skyview in which the Broncs ran all over the Bulldogs.
Senior linebaker Bo Taylor had a lot to do with Friday’s bounce back. Taylor was credited with five tackles. That was the same as linebacker Nathan Matteson and one less than Mason Woods, the team leader.
Taylor, though, seemed to be in on every play.
“He’s just got a great motor,” Grey said. “He just competes and goes. He does so many things for us.
“All of them as a unit played well,” the coach added of his defensive players. “They were able to stop the run and do some things. Our safeties came up and hit, and that was big. Andre Vialpando had a couple of touchdown saving tackles, some big tackles.”
Taylor said the Bulldog defense never stopped believing in itself.
“We pursed the ball and made sure everybody was doing their job,” he said. “Everybody got their hat to the ball, and that’s all we need to do to have an awesome defense.”
Bunney, who also plays cornerback, echoed Taylor’s sentiments.
“The shut was great because we gave up 55 points last week,” he said. “It was nice to have a shutout and prove to everybody that we’re a good team. It’s not just offense. This is a team effort.”
While the Bulldog coaches weren’t happy with the drops and turnovers, Butte High’s offense still showed off its deadly big-play ability to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead.
Cory Farstveet, who saw his most extensive action of the season, caught the next two TD passes.
Junior quarterback Dallas Cook had a hand in all of those first-half points. Cook hit Dalton Daum for a 29-yard TD strike with 8:10 left in the first quarter.
Farstveet caught a 6-yard pass late in the first quarter. He capped Butte’s next drive with an 18-yard catch early in the second quarter.
Cook completed 19 of 41 passes for 217 yards. Cook was picked off twice — once on a deep ball in which Hellgate’s Hunter Mahlum outjumped a receiver for the ball and once on a tipped pass.
Daum caught four passes for 71 yards, while Farstveet hauled in four for 36. Bryce Armstrong and Jon Allen each caught three, while Tyler Earls caught two. Bunney, Connor Lane and Jake Eisenbarth each grabbed on.
Bunney ran for 154 yards on just eight carries behind Butte’s starting offensive line of Anthony Moritz, Nick “Bubba” Butorovich, Drew Schleeman Dustin LaMiaux, Drew Schleeman and Zach Erickson.
Cook scrambled six times for 40 yards, while Eisenbarth, Taylor and Damien Hayden contributed to the running attack.
Senior captain Daniel Kloepfel recorded three of Butte High’s six sacks. Taylor, Keiffer Hepola and Billy Robinson all got one.
Zach Bauer ran for 105 yards on 23 carries, one of only a couple bright spots for the 0-3 Knights.
Hellgate ran for 157 yards, but the Bulldogs surrendered just four completions for 30 yards.
“The defense played extremely well,” Grey said. “They got back to some basics and just relaxed and played football. We were able to do some good things. I’m proud of the defensive staff. I’m proud of the defensive players for really rising to the occasion and really keeping us in the game.”
Next week the Bulldogs take on Billings West (2-1), which fell 37-17 to Bozeman Friday night.
Butte High will be celebrating homecoming.
Well, Bulldogs fans will be celebrating anyway. The Bulldogs still have some work to do.
“We’ve still got to go on from here and get better every day,” Taylor said.
Missoula Hellgate 0 0 0 0 — 0
Butte High 14 7 21 0 — 42
Butte — Dalton Daum 29 pass from Dallas Cook (Jake Dennehy kick), 8:10
Butte — Cory Farstveet 6 pass from Cook (Dennehy kick), 3:12
Butte — Farstveet 18 pass from Cook (Dennehy kick), 11:40
Butte — Zach Bunney 75 run (Dennehy kick), 11:45
Butte — Bunney 40 run (Dennehy kick), 4:22
Butte — Joe Blunt 13 run (Dennehy kick), 1:15
First downs 10 223
Rushes-yards 44-157 32-266
Passing yards 30 217
Comp-att-int 4-20-0 19-41-2
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-35 10-80
RUSHING — Hellgate: Zach Bauer 23-105, Luke Bewley 15-29, Dan Lympus 4-21, Sky Nowlen 1-1, Connor Lewis 1-1. Butte: Zach Bunney 8-154, Dallas Cook 6-50, Jake Eisenbarth 5-25, Joe Blunt 6-21, Bo Taylor 4-10, Damien Hayden 3-6.
PASSING — Hellgate: Luke Bewley 4-19-0-30, team 0-1-0-0. Butte: Dallas Cook 19-41-2-217.
RECEIVING — Hellgate: Andy Nemec 2-25, Taylor Hill 1-5, Sky Nowlen 1-0. Butte: Dalton Daum 4-71, Cory Farstveet 4-36, Bryce Armstrong 3-33, Jon Allen 3-30, Tyler Earles 2-18, Zach Bunney 1-11, Connor Lane 1-10, Jake Eisenbarth 1-8.