Take away the first eight minutes or so, and Butte High didn’t have such a bad night.
Put all 48 minutes together, however, and it added up to a 31-13 Class AA football win for CMR Friday at Naranche Stadium, as Butte High celebrated Silver B’s night.
The Rustlers rattled off 17 points on their first three possessions, while the Bulldogs fumbled away two of their first four. The Bulldogs fell to 1-2 with the loss as CMR improved to 2-1.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to start,” said Butte High head coach Arie Grey. “We’ve got to relax and calm down. We’re too jittery and bouncing around.”
The Bulldogs had reason to worry from the get-go, as Sean Staples’ opening kickoff was returned 46 yards by Russell junior Andrew Grinde. It was a sign of things to come. Grinde tallied 29 yards on his next five carries, as Karl Tucker burst in from 3 yards out to give the Rustlers a touchdown lead three and a half minutes into the game.
Butte saw its opening play end in a fumble, as the Rustlers struck quickly on a sharp 20-yard touchdown pass from Dallas Farren to Bryce Cuchine, and four minutes into the game, CMR led 14-0.
Butte tried early to establish a running game, but that only led to a three-and-punt appearance, and another big play from Grinde, who broke free for a 59-yard gain and a first-and-goal for the visitors.
It was then that the Bulldogs saw the first positive development of the night, as the Butte defense held the Rustlers to a 22-yard field goal.
Another Butte punt saw yet another 59-yard gallop by Grinde on the first play from scrimmage, though the Bulldog defense held CMR to another field goal attempt which sailed wide right from 32 yards out.
Butte fumbled away its next possession, and while Grinde didn’t break open another big play, he did get his first touchdown of the night on a 14-yard pass from Farren.
Butte linebacker Cian Randall intercepted Farren to give the Bulldogs the ball before half, but the drive stalled before the clock ran out, leaving the Bulldogs trailing 24-0 at intermission.
Bulldog quarterback Dylan Cook was forced to try making things happen in the second half, and was picked off twice. In addition to the early fumbles, that brings Butte’s turnover total for the year to an even dozen.
“We’ve got to realize how important the ball is,” Grey said. “It’s little things that lead to turnovers, and we have to take care of that. We’ve got a long way to go.”
After Grinde tallied 207 yards on 18 carries in the first half, Butte’s defense settled in after some halftime adjustments. The Bulldog offense finally got the ball in the endzone in the fourth quarter when Cook bulled in from 3 yards out. The score was set up by a nice cross-field pass play from Cook to Paul Campbell, who gained 40 yards on the play.
The Rustlers answered, though, as Grinde had every carry in a 5-play, 68-yard drive that ended in an 11-yard TD. Grinde finished the night with 291 yards on 29 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
Justin Peterson recovered a CMR fumble to set up Butte’s last touchdown drive, capped by a pair of nice Cook aerials caught by Connor Lane – the last one a 7-yard scoring strike.
It was too little, too late, though, and the Rustlers celebrated the win.
Cook finished with 28 pass completions on 48 tries for 333 yards, and also led the Bulldog ground attack with 13 carries for 31 yards. Paul Campbell had six catches for 98 yards, Lane had six for 91, and Brock LaPier had seven for 75. Dalton Daum had six catches for 42 yards.
Defensively, Clay Dean was credited for 14 tackles – 11 unassisted, while Tyler Wonnacott was in on nine – five by himself.
“We’ve got to get better,” Grey observed. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and get it figured out. It’s a long season.”
The Bulldogs are on the road next weekend on their second of three trips to Billings. This one will be to test West, which is on an unprecedented losing streak.