By Bruce Sayler
A run-strong Frenchtown team took advantage of Butte Central injuries and mistakes and blanked the Maroons 36-0 Friday night in a Western A Conference high school football game at Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus.
Five Bronc ball-carriers ran for more than 25 yards in a 240-yard ground attack that ate time off the clock as well as punishing the BC defense up front and driving for touchdowns. Fullback Noah Rausch ran for two of the Frenchtown TDs, on a 1-yard plow and an 18-yard charge.
However, deep back Beau Boudreaux led the offense with 68 yards. Eli Quinn, a 6-foot-7 quarteback with Butte roots capably directed the attack while throwing only 11 passes, completing six.
The game was Butte Central’s last home contest of the year and the Maroons honored 11 senior players with their family members. Rye Doherty, Garrett Button, Ethan Andersch, Dougie Peoples, Kyle Holter, Konnor Pochervina, Cayden Kibler, Riley Gelling, Josiah McGee and Eric Loos were the BC seniors on the home field for the last time. Pochervina and Peoples were in street clothes on the sidelines with injuries keeping them out of action. Pochervina has been hampered all season by a bad ankle, and Peoples recently suffered a sprained knee, his uncle, head coach Don Peoples Jr., said.
Coach Peoples noted the BC players again emptied their tanks in trying to succeed against a good Frenchtown club.
“We came out and I thought we did some good things,” the coach said. “Jack (Keeley) completed his first seven or eight passes, I think. We just didn’t finish opportunities to score. We’re still being challenged by being short-handed. The kids didn’t quit. They fought to the finish.
“Frenchtown is a good team and is as good upfront as anybody we’ve played this year. And, they have good speed as a team.”
Keeley, who missed two games with a shoulder injury, appeared to aggravate the injury again Friday and Holter and Doherty saw duty at quarterback in relief. Holter posted offensive stats in three categories with 32 yards rushing, 45 passing and a game-high 56 receiving, on five catches. His rushing total was cramped by suffering sacks out of the QB position.
Coach Peoples said lineman Kibler was bothered by a laceration on his hand that took him out of last week’s game in Dillon. Doherty was limping by game’s end as injuries continued to hamper depth-challenged Butte Central.
Frenchtown’s other touchdowns were a 6-yard run by all-around threat Solly Belcourt, a 19-yard pass interception runback by Connor Michaud and a 9-yard dash by Peyton Hicks. Belcourt had 29 yards rushing, caught a 12-yard pass and intercepted a pass while playing defense. Michaud’s pick seemed to be the turning point.
The Maroons marched to the Broncs’ 26-yard line on the game’s first possession. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete and Frenchtown took over on downs, launching the first scoring drive of the night. It ended with Belcourt’s touchdown around the right side. The Broncs faked an extra-point kick, instead having holder Brady Hardy flip a 2-point conversion pass to Michaud.
Frenchtown took the 8-0 lead into the second quarter and the BC team punted away its next possession, Moodry pinning the Broncs to their own 14-yard line. Quinn directed Frenchtown on another ground-oriented march, ending with Rausch’s first touchdown. Matt Kleinsmith kicked the first of his four extra points 3 minutes before halftime.
Holter ran the kickoff back to his own 22-yard line and Keeley completed a pass to Moodry back to the line of scrimmage on first down. Michaud then stepped in front of a Butte Central receiver, stole the pass and raced 19 yards to the end zone. The Broncs had a 22-0 advantage at intermission.
Rausch’s later touchdown followed a good punt return by Belcourt to the Butte Central 27-yard line following Brody Harris’ first big yardage-loss sack of Holter. The Frenchtown lead was 29-0 going into the final period.
The Broncs scored their last touchdown with a time-consuming drive to eat up the clock. Hicks broke free for the 9-yard run to end the 10-play march composed entirely of running plays.
“The kids gave us everything they had,” coach Peoples said. “We have a week off next week and can hopefully get some guys healthy again and then go get a win on the road. Our mantra is we will never quit and I know our kids won’t.”
The loss dropped the Maroons to 1-6 for the year and in Western A play. They don’t play again until October 22 when they go to Stevensville to close their season. Frenchtown went to 4-3 with the win, 3-3 in Western A. The Broncs will play host to Stevensville next Friday before finishing the regular season the following week at East Helena.
Frenchtown 8 14 7 7 – 36
Butte Central 0 0 0 0 — 0
FRE – Solly Belcourt 6 run (Connor Michaud pass from Brady Hardy), :23. Drive – 74 yards in 8 plays. Key – Peyton Hicks 36-yard run to Butte Central 10-yard line.
FRE – Noah Rausch 1 run (Matt Kleinsmith kick), 3:00. Drive – 86 yards in 13 plays. Key – Rausch 10-yard run to Butte Central 27-yard line on 4th-and-2.
FRE – Connor Michaud 19 pass interception return (Kleinsmith kick), 2:03. Drive – none. Key – Scoring play.
FRE – Rausch 18 run (Kleinsmith kick), 2:24. Drive – 27 yards in 2 plays. Key – Belcourt 21-yard punt return to Butte Central 27-yard line.
FRE – Peyton Hicks 9 run (Kleinsmith kick), 2:05. Drive – 68 yards in 10 plays. Key – Carter White 14-yard run to Butte Central 24-yard line on 3rd-and-8.
First downs 16 15
Rushes-yards 43-240 25-30
Passes 6-11-0 16-33-2
Passing yards 51 101
Total offense 291 131
Return yards 45 0
Punts-avg. 2-58.0 3-35.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 7-1
Penalties-yards 10-90 6-37
RUSHING – Frenchtown, Beau Boudreaux 9-68, Peyton Hicks 8-59, Noah Rausch 9-59, Solly Belcourt 4-29, Carter White 3-25. Butte Central, Kyle Holter 16-32, Jack Keeley 6-2, Rye Doherty 3-(-4).
PASSING – Frenchtown, Eli Quinn 6-11-0-51. Butte Central, Keeley 10-16-2-56, Holter 6-17-0-45.
RECEIVING – Frenchtown, Belcourt 1-12, White 2-12, Connor Michaud 1-7, Kellen Klimpel 1-6, Rausch 1-2. Butte Central, Holter 5-56, Zane Moodry 5-35, Eric Loos 2-29, Doherty 2-25, Garrett Button 1-4, Justus McGee 1-2.
TURNOVERS – Fumble recoveries: Frenchtown 1 (Boudreaux), Butte Central 0; Pass interceptions – Frenchtown 2 (Michaud 1, Belcourt 1), Butte Central 0.