The Butte Central football seniors, especially, celebrated their night on Friday.
The Maroons walloped Corvallis 49-0 at Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus to close the regular season with a Southwestern A Conference game that was so lopsided, the mercy clock was running before halftime. The BC lead was 42-0 at intermission.
Each of the six Butte Central seniors played a key part, made at least one big play. Receiver Kale Guldseth added to his school records with four more catches for 101 yards, including two touchdown grabs. Tight end Connor McGree caught a TD pass and scored another on a fumble recovery and runback. On defense, he also harried the Corvallis backfield all night long. Running back Wyatt Kingston needed 22 yards going into the contest to reach 1,000 in rushing this season. He achieved it on his first carry, a 61-yard touchdown romp on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Kingston, the conference leader in rushing, finished the game with 101 yards on just eight carries.
Lineman Connor Schulte, playing despite painful knee injuries, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament, helped to open the big holes for the running game and slow down the Corvallis pass rush to aid the Maroon passing attack. Lineman Jesse Reinke, usually limited to special team duty, set up the team’s last TD, a 7-yardx sprint by junior Kyle Harrington, by recovering a Blue Devil fumble on the Corvallis 10-yard line. Senior lineman Brant Ahlborn was also key on the front line and he also preserved a BC possession by smothering a teammate’s fumble.
The win secured a spot in the Class A state playoffs for Butte Central, which was awaiting outcomes of other games Friday night before its first-round opponent and game site and day could be confirmed.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Don Peoples Jr., head coach of the Maroons, said. “It’s been up and down for us this year and our season was really on the line tonight. We came out on fire. I’m proud of our kids for being so prepared.”
The BC boys jumped out 28-0 in the first quarter as Kingston ran for touchdowns measuring 61 and 12 yards, the second one set up by a 40-yard punt return by Guldseth., McGree scored on his fumble scoop and Guldseth hauled in a 45-yard TD pass play from junior quarterback Danny Peoples. The McGree recovery capped a rare, two-fumble play in which Corvallis quarterback Jayce Gilder tried to rescue a high snap. He was bobbling the ball when tackled and the ball was picked out of the air by Blue Devil receiver Jake Purlee who was trailing play. Marcus Ferriter’s hit knocked the ball from Purlee’s grip and McGree snatched off the ground and ran for the touchdown.
“I think our defense played outstanding and our offense executed very well,” coach Peoples said. “We had so much emotion to start this game. We had a really emotional senior ceremony with the fathers and grandfathers that, emotionally, we came to play.”
The Butte Central defense held Corvallis to 21 total yards and two first downs. The Maroons corralled the Blue Devi ball carriers for a loss of six yards and allowed by 27 through the air. The unit also recovered four Corvallis fumbles — the one McGree took in for a touchdown, along with the one Reinke recovered, as well as those recovered by Ferriter and Nate McGree.
After taking the 49-0 first-quarter lead, BC tacked on a pair of second-period scores — quarterback Peoples’ 3-yard toss to Connor McGree, and his 24-yard connection with Guldseth. The latter started the running of the game clock, which stops for nothing but injuries and timeouts once a 35-point difference has been reached.
Gilder tried just six passes against the Maroons and completed two. Gunnar Fairbrother recovered a fumble for the Blue Devils, though they gave it away on the next play, with BC’s Nate McGree recovering the ball.
Faced with the possible end of the season Friday, the team dinner became an emotional scene the night before, coach Peoples said.
“They didn’t want their season to end (Friday night),” the coach said.
Corvallis 0 0 0 0 — 0
Butte Central 28 14 0 7 — 49
BC — Wyatt Kingston 61 run (Danny Peoples kick), 11:44. Drive — 61 yards on 1 play. Key play — Scoring play.
BC — Connor McGree 17 fumble recovery (Danny Peoples kick), 9:42. Drive — none. Key play — Scoring play.
BC — Kale Guldseth 45 pass from Danny Peoples (Peoples kick), 5:53. Drive — 71 yards in 4 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
BC — Kingston 12 run (Peoples kick), 4:13. Drive — 12 yards in 1 play. Key play — Guldseth 40-yard punt return to Corvallis 12-yard line.
BC — C. McGree 3 pass from Peoples (Peoples kick), 6:55. Drive — 3 yards in 1 play. Key play — Marcus Ferriterrecovery of Corvallis fumble at Corvallis 3-yard line.
BC — Guldseth 24 pass from Peoples (Peoples kick), 1:48. Drive — 41 yards in 3 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
BC — Kyle Harrington 7 run (Mike Cooney kick), 7:19. Drive — 10 yards in 2 plays. Key play — Jess Reinke recovery of Corvallis fumble at Corvallis 10-yard line.
First downs 2 11
Rushes-yards 31-(-6) 19-92
Passes 2-6-0 11-16-0
Passing yards 27 199
Return yards 10 57
Punts-avg. x-6-33.5 3-35.6
Fumbles-lost 9-4 5-1
Penalties-yards 3-15 1-5
RUSHING — Corvallis, Gunnar Fairbrother 8-19, Austin Ray 3-2, Jayce Gilder 19-2, Dillon Liedle 1-0, Chaney Waldo 1-0, Team 1-(-13), Jake Purlee 1-(-16). Butte Central, Wyatt Kingston 8-101, Cole Harper 2-12, Kyle Harrington 2-11, Nate McGree 1- (-1), Tanner Kump 1-(-6), Danny Peoples 4-(-7), Team 1-(-18).
PASSING — Corvallis, Gilder 2-6-0-27. Butte Central, Peoples 10-15-0-176.
RECEIVING — Ccorvallis, Taylor Sylvester 1-14, Dillon Liedle 1-13. Butte Central, Kale Guldseth 4-101, Kingston 3-59, Chad Peterson 2-34, Connor McGree 2-5.
Photos by Jason Silvernale. To purchase high-quality copies of these photos or more like them, go to silvernale.smugmug.com.