Spartans spear Bulldogs, 35-10, in Missoula

By Pat Ryan

MISSOULA –It took just five minutes to fall apart.

Missoula Sentinel scored 21 points in seven plays over a span of five minutes and seven seconds around the beginning of the fourth quarter to pull away from Butte High and post a resounding 35-10 Class AA victory over the visiting Bulldogs Friday evening at Missoula County Stadium.

Butte High had just seen junior quarterback Ty Peterson sneak in from a foot out for the Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the night, cutting the Spartan lead to four points when the home team opened up the floodgates.

Butte High quarterback Ty Peterson (14) lines up his team in the "muscle" formation just prior to Butte High's lone touchdown of the evening Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)
Butte High quarterback Ty Peterson (14) lines up his team in the “muscle” formation just prior to Butte High’s lone touchdown of the evening Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)

“We got stampeded,” observed Bulldog head coach Arie Grey. “We were in the game. We had some opportunities; we just have to capitalize on them.”

The opening play of the game gave the multitude of traveling Bulldog fans some optimism, as senior captain Bryce Gallagher took the opening kickoff 44 yards back to near midfield.

Butte punted seven plays later and Sentinel took its opening drive 90 yards for a touchdown and a lead the Spartans never gave up.

Butte’s next drive ended with a 5-yard punt, and Sentinel saw a fourth-and-19 situation transformed into a first-and-10 following a flag on the Bulldogs for roughing the passer. Still, the Bulldogs escaped the hole when Jacob Masters pounced on a fumble by Spartan quarterback Mitch Roberts.

Peterson, who completed 20 of 43 passes for 183 yards, connected with Will O’Connor on a slant route that gained 28 yards on a drive that saw a couple of bruising runs from junior back Bo Mortensen. On third-and-goal from the 8 yard line, a Peterson play-action pass sailed over the head of tight end Nathaniel Ferguson, who went on to boot a 25-yard field goal on the next play.

Butte's Nathaniel Ferguson kicks a 25-yard field goal in the second period Friday evening in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)
Butte’s Nathaniel Ferguson kicks a 25-yard field goal in the second period Friday evening in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)

Gallagher registered a tackle for loss after a sideline pass, forcing a Spartan punt, but the Sentinel defense responded in kind, and Ferguson sent a booming punt back to the Spartan 27.

The home team marched ahead and got within striking distance when Roberts tossed a 36-yard strike to Ethan Jones. Gallagher was covering him as well as possible, but the pass was right on the money, setting up a 6-yard scoring run by Conner Crawford, who finished the night with 132 yards rushing on 21 carries. The Spartans managed 272 yards on the ground overall.

After trading punted possessions to open the second half, Butte High got a nice break when Corbin Walker recovered another Spartan fumble forced by defensive end Brian LaFond.

Butte defenders Jake Moore (4) and Brian LaFond (23) put pressure on Sentinel quarterback Mitch Roberts Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)
Butte defenders Jake Moore (4) and Brian LaFond (23) put pressure on Sentinel quarterback Mitch Roberts Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)

The big offensive play of Butte’s 52-yard scoring drive was on Mortensen’s 21-yard run around the right side of the line, though Peterson’s 2-yard bounce around run saved the drive in a fourth-and-1 situation.

With 3:43 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs trailed by four and seemed to have finally gained some momentum.

Sentinel, still stinging from a 37-13 loss to Billings Senior the previous week at Grizzly Stadium, was just getting warmed up. Roberts completed a 29-yard scoring pass to Nick Germer, and the Spartans added another touchdown seconds later when Hunter Paulson took a Peterson pass back for a pick-six from 25 yards out.

Butte turned the ball over on downs in four plays, and the Spartans hit again when Crawford scored on a 19-yard run, effectively putting the game out of reach.

“Give Sentinel credit,” Grey said. “They dictated the tempo and effort tonight. Everything we did right last week we did wrong tonight, but last week’s score doesn’t mean a thing tonight. We didn’t win first downs. We didn’t tackle well. There were a lot of little things that added up and turned into big things. We panicked when we didn’t need to.”

Kiley Caprara darts forward for yards after the catch Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)
Kiley Caprara darts forward for yards after the catch Friday in Missoula. (Pat Ryan photo)

Butte saw Kiley Caprara snag nine passes for 47 yards, while O’Connor had four catches for 45 yards. Gallagher had three grabs for 26 yards, while Mortensen collected 56 yards rushing on 27 carries.

Butte High, which fell to 1-1 on the season, opens its home slate next Friday against Bozeman, which dropped a 49-45 nailbiter at home against Kalispell Glacier.

“Tonight at midnight we’ll forget about this one and move on to next week,” Grey said.

 

Butte       0 3 7 0–14
Sentinel  7 7 14 7–35
First quarter
SHS – Crawford 9 run (Peppenger kick), 6:30
Second quarter
BHS – Ferguson 25 field goal, 9:25
SHS – Crawford 6 run (Peppenger kick), 5:34
Third quarter
BHS – Peterson 1 run (Ferguson kick), 3:43
SHS – Germer 29 pass from Roberts (Peppenger kick), 1:19
SHS – Paulson 30 interception return (Peppenger kick), 0:02
Fourth quarter
SHS – Crawford 19 run (Peppenger kick), 8:12
Receiving – Butte, Caprara 9-47, O’Connor 4-45, Gallagher 3-26, Lee 2-24, Kelly 1-30. Sentinel, Germer 5-64, Messer 1-36, Paulson 1-13, Morley 1-7, Jones 1-36, Shooshtari 1-0, Crawford 1-(-2).
Rushing – Butte, Mortensen 27-56, O’Connor 1-17, Caprara 1-1, Peterson 9-(-4). Sentinel, Crawford 21-132, DeWaters 9-76, Roberts 11-36, Ingraham 6-18, Ortt 3-15.
Passing – Butte, Peterson 20-43-183-2. Sentinel, Roberts 11-20-154-0

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