Cramps hindered Kyle Harrington’s legs much of the game. Otherwise, his legs hindered Billings Central.
So did a body block he threw at the football on the last play of an exciting 24-23 Butte Central overtime victory over the Rams in a Class A high school non-conference game played Friday night at Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus.
Harrington ran for 136 yards on 20 carries in his combination of fast-and-physical toting. His speed was also important at defensive end as the Maroons hemmed in the flashy Billings Central ground game just enough to pick up the win. Oh, and there was that kick block. Harrington sped in from his end spot, having just returned from his last bout with cramps, to smother Benton Braesicke’s extra-point kick attempt on a Rams’ touchdown in overtime. The block, the last play of the game, sent Maroon Nation into bedlam as fans poured out of the stands and all-around smiles outshined the moon.
Senior quarterback Danny Peoples sneaked a yard for one touchdown and threw to Kaemen Richards on a 41-yard scoring play. He also kicked a 29-yard field goal. Peoples’ totals also included 60 yards rushing, 104 passing. He was 9-for-12 through the air, suffering one interception.
The overtime TD was a 5-yard dash by Richards.
“I am so proud of the kids,” Don Peoples Jr., head coach of the Maroons, said after the team took its first win in this Bishops’ Bowl series since 1998, ending an 11-game victory streak by the Rams in the rivalry.
“They played so hard,” coach Peoples continued. “I just can’t tell how proud I am. I was really proud of how we ran our read-zone, ‘I’ and power football game tonight. The defense played great, too. (The Rams) have some great offensive players and to hold them to 17 points in regulation is a great accomplishment.”
Regulation play ended with the teams in a 17-all knot. Billings Central won the coin toss to start the Montana playoff and elected to play defense first. The ball was placed at the 10-yard line on the south end of the field.
Harrington carried on first down and blasted his way to the 5-yard line. However, cramps forced him to limp from the field. On second down, Richards took the handoff, cut to his left and outlegged the Billings Central defense to the end zone. Peoples kicked the extra point and the Maroons held the 24-17 edge with the Rams ready for their turn.
Star back Holden Ryan took a pitch from quarterback Michael Stanton and cruised around left end and into the end zone on first down. Billings Central opted to try to force a second overtime with a kicked point-after rather than risk going for a 2-point conversion that would win the game, if successful, or lose it if not converted.
Harrington was back on the field. The Rams snapped for Braesicke’s kick and Butte Central defenders stampeded into the Billings Central backfield. The kick thumped off Harrington as players piled into a heap at the site and the ball never left the backfield.
“I’m glad we called a timeout just before that kick and set up a couple of adjustments to get to the kicker,” coach Peoples said.
“We had a lot of kids step up and make plays in this game,” the coach added. “Too many to mention.”
The joy with how the victory was accomplished accompanied the relief the players felt in ending the win drought against the Rams.
“It’s the biggest win in my career” Richards, a fourth-year starter for Butte Central, said.
The fullback/linebacker used his savvy to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown, the 5-yard carry in overtime that put his team ahead 24-17.
“We’ve been running that play the whole time and I realize it’s an inside play,” he said. “But I took it outside because I knew they would be stacked inside.”
He said the Rams were certainly as tough to play against as advertised and acknowledged they were impossible to completely stop. The try was mighty, though.
Chad Peterson, Marcus Ferriter, Jake Michelotti, Kyle Schulte and Liam Doran all registered tackles for losses against the Rams as the quickness of the Maroons’ defense definitely factored.
It had to as Billings Central traveled well on the running of Ryan, Jesse Byorth and Colin Holetz throughout the night. The Rams attempted only eight passes and quarterback Michael Stanton completed half of them.
The Maroons capped their first possession with a touchdown, grabbing a 7-0 lead. Harrington busted a 35-yard pack to launch the drive and Peoples finished it six plays later with a yard sneak.
Peoples kicked his field goal at 10:42 of the second quarter and Butte Central led 10-0. The Rams, a preseason favorite to win the Class A state crown, were due to erupt, though, and they did. Stanton found Ryan open for a screen pass and the fast, smooth-moving back took it for a 57-yard touchdown, eluding, then outracing would-be tacklers en route.
Then the Rams’ Zach Hanser leaped high into the air to snare what looked to be a safe, throwaway at the sidelines by Peoples and brought it down for an interception. The play set Billings Central’s offense on the Maroons’ 45-yard line. The ensuing drive gained 43 yards before stalling at the 2. The Rams chose to kick a field goal and Braesicke did from 20 yards away to tie the score at 10-all.
The Maroons lost their next possession on downs at the Billings Central 20-yard line as time dwindled before halftime. The Rams geared into hurry-up mode and Stanton connected on passes of 24 yards to Jacob Hadley and 12 to Ryan to move the team downfield.
Ryan’s reception moved the ball to the Butte Central 11-yard line and the Rams sent their kicking team onto the field to try a 29-yard field goal. Officials under the crossbar signaled the kick good before it was determined the ball had been snapped a second or so after the horn sounding an end to the half had blared. Coaches from both sides argued the ruling, the Maroons,’ first, that the kick was too late, and then the Rams’ that it should have been good.
Butte Central’s might have been a little louder as assistant Doug Peoples was not allowed back to the sidelines for the second half.
Anyway, the teams left the half tied 10-all. The Maroons broke the tie on a big play in the third quarter when Danny Peoples found Richards breaking open behind the Billings Central secondary. The link went for a 41-yard touchdown.
The Rams tied the score once more, also in the third, taking advantage of a short field for a scoring march. They got the ball at their 35-yard line after Butte Central’s kickoff bounced out of bounds. Holetz and Ryan gained a combined 39 yards on three carries and then Jonah Studer zipped for a 23-yarder to the Butte Central 3-yard line. Byorth crashed over the goal line, creating the tie that eventually brought on the overtime.
The win put the Maroons at 2-1 this season. They will end the non-conference portion of their schedule with a game at Hardin next Friday. Billings Central is 1-1.
Billings Central 0 10 7 0 6 — 23
Butte Central 7 3 7 0 7 — 24
BuC — Danny Peoples 1 run (Peoples kick), 6:54.
Drive — 54 yards in 7 plays. Key play — Kyle Harrington 35-yard run to Billings Central 19-yard line.
BuC — FG Peoples 29, 10:42.
Drive — 71 yards in 12 plays. Key play — Chad Peterson 14 pass from Peoples to Billings Central 16-yard line.
BillC — Holden Ryan 57 pass from Michael Stanton (Benton Braesicke kick), 7:37.
Drive — 80 yards in 8 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
BillC — FG Braesicke 20, 3:46.
Drive — 45 yards in 5 plays. Key play — Zach Hanser pass interception at Butte Central 45-yard line.
BuC — Kaemen Richards 41 pass from Peoples (Peoples kick), 5:55.
Drive — 85 yards in 7 plays. Key play — Scoring play.
BillC — Jesse Byorth 3 run (Braesicke kick), 5:04.
Drive — 65 yards in 6 plays. Key play — Jonah Studer 23-yard run to Butte Central 3-yard line.
BuC — Richards 5 run (Peoples kick)
BillC — Ryan 10 run (kick blocked)
First downs 14 19
Rushes-yards 43-230 47-223
Passes 4-8-0 9-12-1
Passing yards 104 121
Sacks-yards lost 0-0 1-5
Total yards 334 339
Return yards 3 0
Punts-avg. 5-39.8 4-31.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-0
Penalties-yards 10-97 7-55
RUSHING — Billings Central, Holden Ryan 24-78, Jesse Byorth 8-64, Colin Holetz 6-54, Jonah Studer 1-23, Michael Stanton 3-13, Team 1-(-2). Butte Central, Kyle Harrington 20-136, Danny Peoples 18-60, Kaemen Richards 5-24, Chad Peterson 2-13, Team 2-(-10).
PASSING — Billings Central, Stanton 4-8-0-104. Butte Central, Peoples 9-12-1-121.
RECEIVING — Billings Central, Ryan 2-69, Jacob Hadley 2-35. Butte Central, Peterson 3-61, Richards 2-50, Cole Harper 1-5, Dalton Sessions 3-5.
To purchase high-quality copies of these photos from Friday’s Bishop’s Bowl by local photographer Jason Silvernale, go to silvernale.smugmug.com.