Maroons punch ticket with Senior Night win

Maroons punch ticket with Senior Night win
Butte Central lineman Seth Gardner escorts quarterback Thomas McGree as McGree reverses field for the first touchdown of the game Friday night at Alumni Coliseum. (Bill Foley photo)

By Derek Hendrickson

The Butte Central Maroons punched their ticket to the Class A State Playoffs Friday night with a hard-fought 30-12 win over a tough Corvallis Blue Devil team on Bob Green Field at Montana Tech.

“I’m just really proud of our kids,: a fired up Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. said after the win.  “I thought our coaches did a great job this week also.  We set every year the number one goal we have is to get into the playoffs and our kids were really determined and they found a way to win tonight.”

Central’s defense played a huge role in Friday’s win, shutting Corvallis out in the second half and forcing the Blue Devils out of their game plan by stuffing their run game.

Corvallis did almost as well on defense in terms of stuffing the Maroon rushing attack but Central got a huge boost as Cade Holter returned to the lineup and was put in at wide receiver after missing the past few games with a concussion.

“That’s just kind of kid he is, Peoples said of Holter.  “He was our quarterback but he just wanted to get back and he made a huge impact on this game as a receiver.”

Holter came up with four catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns and also played well in return to his safety position on defense.

Sophomore Thomas McGree settled into his role at quarterback, getting his second straight conference win by completing 9-18 passes for 243 yards.

The Blue Devils, much like the last several opponents, keyed on stopping senior running back Ryan Moodry, and did well to contain him for parts of the game.  The workhorse still managed 95 yards on 21 carries and also had two receptions for 61 more.

“They were stout, they were big up front, especially in their interior,: Peoples answered about the Corvallis defense.   “We had a little bit of trouble but Ryan pounded it at ’em like he always does.”

Junior turnover machine Aiden Petritz came up with a fumble recovery on a muffed punt to strengthen his all-conference resume.  Teams have stopped throwing at him after he opened the season with five picks in three games.

Senior Dylan Shea also pounced on a loose ball that got the Maroons going.

Central started the game with the ball but had to punt after six plays.

Corvallis runs a bunched formation with their tailback only a couple yards behind the quarterback under center.

On the Blue Devils third snap the Maroons d-line crashed through and forced a loose ball that Shea pounced on, giving the Maroons the ball at their own 45.

With the Blue Devils keying on the power run game McGree pulled the ball and kept to get the drive going on a 15 yard scamper.

Moodry ripped off a 36 yard catch and run to set up another rush by McGree to give the Maroons the lead.

On the touchdown run McGree went to the left but found no room to maneuver.  As he started to make his way back to the other side the entire offensive line saw the play developing and walled off a lane that allowed the quarterback to easily score from 13 yards out.  Moodry booted the point after to make it 7-0.

After the Central defense held again Corvallis got their first break when a bad snap cost the Maroons 16 yards and forced a punt.

The Blue Devils got great field position on the exchange, setting up at the BC 33 and quickly taking advantage.

Junior running back Hunter Pinheiro did most of the heavy lifting for the Blue Devils on the night and took the honors of punching in a five yard touchdown.  The extra point was wide but Corvallis trailed only 7-6 after one.

Central wasted little time in rebuilding their lead.  After two Moodry runs McGree lofted a perfectly thrown ball over a Blue Devil cornerback as Holter ran past the defender and ran 68 yards for the quick strike and a 14-6 lead.

The Maroon defense looked poised to give the ball back to their offense but the Blue Devils got another break after they were forced to punt.

On the series senior Hunter Hartwick came up with a third down sack.  On the ensuing punt Aaron Christensen didn’t get all of the ball as he kicked it, which turned out to be fortunate for the Blue Devils as the ball hit a Maroon player and was recovered by Corvallis.

The Blue Devils would again cash in on their short field, this time quarterback Ridge Albright ran for an impressive 29 yard score.  The two point run was sniffed out by Clay Fisher to maintain Central’s 14-12 lead.

Corvallis did not start another drive in Maroon territory and also did not score again.

“Extremely proud of our defense tonight,” Peoples said as the team sang their victory song in the background.  “We put them in a couple bad spots and gave up some scores but they played lights out all night against a very hard running, physical football team.”

The defense would only surrender 163 yards of total offense, about a quarter of which came on a desperation pass to end the first half.

Unfazed by the Blue Devils touchdown the Maroon offense went right back to work.

Matt Simkins hauled in a 24 yard reception, McGree ran for 6 before Moodry capped the drive with totes of ten and four to send it to the break 21-12 Maroons.

The halftime adjustments were all on defense as the teams played to a third quarter stalemate.

The only real scoring threat in the quarter came when Central got back-to-back big pass plays to Moodry and Holter but a penalty put them behind the sticks.

Jakon Dalbey made consecutive big plays for Corvallis, getting a third down sack from his linebacker position and then interception a desperation 4th down pass.

The Blue Devils went three and out after the turnover but again held when the Maroons got the ball back.

Central got a strong punt from Moodry to pin Corvallis and then Jared Simkins made a huge play from his defensive end position.

Simkins got quick pressure on a rare pass play from Corvallis.  Albright tried to elude the sack but couldn’t get away.  As he continued to fight to avoid the big loss he ended up in his own end zone where Simkins drug him down for a safety, making it 23-12.

The big play energized the Maroons and their offense came back to life as four run plays netted 39 yards.

Corvallis got a sack to force Central into a forth and 11 at the 22.  As they had done several times prior McGree and Holter hooked up on another perfect pitch and catch, this time in the end zone to round out the scoring and put the cherry on top another Maroon playoff season.

Central will most likely face the Dillon Beavers next weekend on the road, a rematch of a 13-6 game won by Dillon several weeks ago that easily could’ve gone the Maroons’ way.

“We told the kids we are going to enjoy this for a little more than 24 hours and then we’re going to wake up Sunday morning and reset goals. Peoples said about the upcoming second season.  “We are excited to be in the playoffs but we’re not satisfied.”

The Beavers lost a back and forth game against Hamilton Friday night, 32-28 in which Dillon twice overcame two score deficits to gain the lead but couldn’t hold on in the fourth quarter.  The Broncs clinched the Southwestern Conference Championship with the win.

The Blue Devils ended their season 0-5 in conference after having a promising non-conference opening.  They had to switch offenses after losing their starting quarterback midway through the season.

Corvallis came up with two strong efforts to end the year, giving Dillon all they wanted last week and hanging tough with another playoff team in Butte Central.

Pinheiro led the Blue Devils with 22 carries for 83 yards.  Garrick Richardson pulled in two catches for 40 yards.

Peoples was asked about having the luxury of two starting caliber quarterbacks that can both play receiver as well and who may start next week.  He said, “Both of those kids have been great, both have been outstanding receivers, we’re going to keep that under our hat.”

Corvallis             6      6     0     0 — 12
Butte Central      7     14    0     9 — 30
First Quarter
BC — McGree 13 yard run (.Moodry kick) 6:22, 7-0.  Drive 5 plays 55 yards 1:54,
COR — Pinheiro 5 yard run  (kick failed)  :20, 7-6.  Drive-8 plays 33 yards 2:37, 
Second Quarter
BC — Holter 68 yard reception (Moodry kick) 11:27, 14-6.  Drive 3 plays 75 yards :52, 
COR — Albright 29 yard run  (run failed)  :20, 14-12.  Drive-3 plays 35 yards :51, 
BC — Moodry 4 yard run (.Moodry kick) 7:45, 21-12.  Drive 4 plays 49 yards 1:42,
Fourth Quarter

BC — Simkins sacked Albright in end zone 8:59 23-12
BC — Holter 22 yard reception (Moodry kick) 5:31, 30-12.  Drive 8 plays 53 yards 3:21,
— Corvallis (42-121), Pinheiro 22-83, Dalbey 9-36, Albright 10-7, Barcus 1-(-5). BC (39-89), Moodry 21-95, Fisher 5-23, McGree 13-(-29).
PASSING — Corvallis, Albright 4-8-0-42. BC, McGree  9-18-1-243,  Holter 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Corvallis, Richardson 2-40, Ballman 1-2, Barcus   1-0. BC, Holter  4-137, Moodry 2-61, M Simkins 2-43, Fisher 1-2.

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