A good second half wasn’t enough to negate giving up four touchdowns before halftime for Butte Central Friday night as the Maroons fell to a fast, good-sized undefeated Laurel team 25-18 in non-conference Class A high school football.
The defeat, BC’s first of the year in four games, came on Homecoming night at the Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus.
“We made a lot of mistakes, too many to beat a good team like Laurel,” Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr., said. “We consistently shot ourselves in the foot when we had opportunities to make plays.”
The Maroons, though, rallied at the end and gave the Locomotives some tense late-game moments before the game came to an end.
“I’m proud of our kids for not quitting,” Peoples said. “We didn’t make enough plays to win this game, but we battled back hard in the second half.”
The Maroons gave up 116 yards receiving to Chance Lawrence on eight catches and 105 yards rushing to Laurel quarterback Casey Cole in the first half while falling behind 25-12. The BC defense, however, held the Locomotives out of the end zone past intermission and limited Lawrence to an 11-yard reception and Cole ro 39 yards rushing in the second half.
Butte Central’s defensive effort was highlighted by the recovery of four fumbles — three by junior outside linebacker Sam Johnston. Sophomore inside linebacker Ryan Moodry had the other.
Time ran out on the Maroons’ last possession and they were driving toward the end zone. The Locomotives were close to scoring while trying to drain the clock of the remaining minutes when Johnston recovered a Laurel fumble on the BC 8-yard line with 41 seconds left in the game. Junior quarterback Tanner Kump then fired a 10-yard completion to running back Blake Burton, and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 34 seconds showing. The next pass was of 9 yards to Cole Harper, who turned out of bounds to stall time.
Kump and Johnston hooked up for a 5-yard connection to the 32-yard line as 16 seconds blinked at the Maroons from the clock in the south end zone. Kump needed again to spike the ball as Butte Central was out of timeouts to stop the clock.
Kump threw to Cal Hollow for an 11-yard gain and time remained for one more play. The Maroons lined up at the line of scrimmage on their own 43. Kump passed to Nate McGree for an 11-yard gain and a first down, stopping the clock just long enough to move the chains.
The BC offense tried to get another play off, but was called for a set violation, which ended the game.
“We did have some positives,” Peoples said. “We had the valiant comeback. We will be fine.”
Butte Central was never able to take the lead. Laurel scored its first touchdown on a 48-yard pass play to Lawrence from Cole, who had taken over quarterbacking duties from Caje Golden. Golden left early in the game with an apparent, undisclosed injury and didn’t return to the field.
Cole, a junior transfer from Forsyth, QB’d the Locomotives the rest of the way. Laurel’s extra-point kick after the first TD was smothered by Butte Central end kyle Schulte.
The speedy Kump then responded for BC with a 52-yard touchdown sprint on his team’s next possession. Laurel gained its 12-6 first-quarter lead on a 16-yard run by Cole that capped a methodical march.
Butte Central tied early in the second period when Moodry was brought in at fullback in a goal-line situation and powered his way into the end zone on third down.
However, the Locomotives chugged to two more TDs before halftime. Cole connected with Lawrence for a 20-yard scoring pass and, just before intermission, Jared Craig crashed across the goal line to finish a 14-play drive.
“We went to another level of opponent,” Peoples said about Friday’s night’s challenge after three wins to begin the season. “Laurel is big, runs well, paaes the ball well and is just a very, very good team.”
Halftime saw Hollow crowned Homecoming King and volleyball/softball star Teresa Piazzola voted Homecoming Queen.
The third quarter saw the Maroons threaten once, but the drive died on downs at the Laurel 21. The BC defense, in the third quarter, took two fumbles from the Locomotives — one that Johnston recovered after Hollow jolted Cole on a blitz in the backfield, and the other when Moodry jumped on a loose ball in the middle of the line.
Butte Central scored on its first possession of the fourth quarter after a long drive that started on its own 7-yard line following a 59-yard punt by Cole. The scoring play saw Johnston lay out near the back of the end zone to haul in the 23-yard pass from Kump.
Laurel then took control of the ball and held it until the fumble with 41 seconds left.
The Maroons will open Southwestern A Conference play next week with a Friday game at Stevensville.
“We’ll be fine,” Peoples said. “We’ll iron out some of the mistakes and be a better team next week. Our defense did a good job in the second half tonight. Offensively, we had some opportunities, but we’d run two or three good plays and then hurt ourselves with a mistake. We’ll be all right. We’ll bounce back hard next week.”
Laurel went to 3-0 with win. The Locomotives’ head coach, Mike Ludwig, is a former Butte resident, having taught at Butte Central, where he served as an assistant football coach, too, and also was head coach of the Butte Americna Legion baseball program.
Laurel 12 13 0 0 — 25
Butte Central 6 6 0 6 — 18
LAU — Chance Lawrence 48 pass from Casey Cole (kick blocked), 9:51. Drive — 86 yards in 3 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
BC — Tanner Kump 52 run (kick failed), 8:47. Drive — 65 yards in 3 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
LAU — Cole 16 run (run pass failed), 3:26. Drive — 67 yards in 7 plays. Key play — Cole 15-yard run to Butte Central 31-yard line.
BC — Ryan Moodry 2 run (pass failed), 10:48. Drive — 47 yards in 13 plays. Key play — Cole Harper 14-yard pass from Kump to Laurel 21-yard line on third-and-12.
LAU — Lawrence 20 pass from Cole (pass failed), 7:02. Drive — 57 yards in 9 plays. Key play — Jared Craig 17-yard run to Butte Central 20-yard line on third-and-three.
LAU — Jared Craig 2 run ((Connor Ludwig kick), :22. Drive — 68 yards in 14 plays. Key play — Craig 6-yard run to Butte Central 24-yard line on fourth-and-two.
BC — Sam Johnston 23 pass from Kump (kick failed), 6:52. Drive — 93 yards on 11 plays. Key play — Nate McGree 38-yard pass from Kump to Laurel 25-yard line.
First downs 20 16
Rushes-yards 48-234 39-166
Passes 12-18-0 14-25-2
Passing yards 153 171
Total yards 387 337
Return yards 24 0
Punts-avg. 3-42.0 3-36.3
Fumbles-lost 4-4 2-0
Penalties-yards 8-67 8-40
RUSHING — Laurel, Casey Cole 23-145, Jared Craig 13-45, Marcus Miller 10-30, Caje Golden 2-14. Butte Central, Tanner Kump 13-83, Blake Burton 16-39, Nate McGree 8-38, Ryan Moodry 2-6.
PASSING — Laurel, Cole 11-17-0-145, Golden 1-1-0-8. Butte Central, Kump 14-25-2-171, Team 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING — Laurel, Chance Lawrence 9-127, Connor Ludwig 1-12, Craig 1-9, Noah Marquis 1-5, Butte Central, McGree 2-55, Sam Johnston 4-48, Cole Harper 4-38, Cal Hollow 2-16, Burton 1-10, Colin McArthur 1-6.
TURNOVERS — Fumble recoveries: Laurel 0, Butte Central 4 (Johnston 3, Moodry 1); Interceptions: Laurel 2 (Golden 1, Lawrence 1); Butte Central 0.