By Ron Davis
The Butte High Bulldogs played three quarters of great football on Friday night. It was the one quarter that they didn’t play well, that made the difference in the 55-41 loss in Kalispell.
Butte High trailed Glacier 7-0 in the first quarter with the Wolf Pack scoring the game’s first points after forcing the Dogs to a 3 and out. Glacier’s first drive took 5 plays to cover 45 yards with the big play being a Gage Sliter pass to Kaiden Buhls for a 35-yard gain to the 8-yard line. Three plays later Slider found Bridger Smith in the right corner of the end zone for the score. Rhett Measure hit the point after putting the home team up 7-0.
That would be the only time the Bulldogs would trail in the first half. Butte started its second position at their own 19-yard line. Jace Stenson took the first snap over the left side for a gain of 21. The next hand-off went to Trey Hansen for 20 yards up the middle. The third play had Stenson connect with Freshman tightend Hudson Luedtke for another 20 yards. A few penalties and a couple of plays later, Stenson found Sean Ossello in the end zone from 15 yards out. A Tyler Duffy kick tied the score at 7.
The Bulldog defense stopped the next Glacier threat when Zach Tierney dove on a fumble at the Bulldog 33. Butte couldn’t capitalize on the advantage and had to punt it back to Glacier. On Glacier’s first play Aden Cuchine stepped in front of a Sliter pass and ran it back 51 yards to the home team’s 32-yard line. Stenson once again went to Luedtke for 15 yards, then ran for another 15 to the one-yard line to end the first Quarter.
The first play of the second saw Stenson sneak into the end zone from one yard out and the Duffy kick made it 14-7 Butte.
Glacier answered the score 33 seconds later following a kick return by Kash Goicoechea to the Bulldogs 19. A face mask call and a “Disconcerting signals” call against the defense moved the Wolf Pack to the 5-yard line. Kobe Dorcheus took in for the score and we were tied at 14.
Stenson once again went to his freshmen tightend and Luedtke ran up the middle for a 53-yard gain to the Glacier 12-yard line. The scoring drive ended with a 1-yard run to the right by Hansen, with 8:14 to play in the half and the boys from Butte were back in the lead 21-14 following another Duffy boot.
The Dogs got the ball back with just over 4 minutes to play in the half. Stenson found his other Freshmen target Cade Stajcar on a seam route for a 48-yard gain. The next play again went to Stajcar in the end zone for a 16-yard score. Duffy’s extra point was blocked and the Dogs were up 27-14.
The Bulldog defense forced Glacier to punt on a three and out and were looking to add to their lead with 2 minutes to play in the half. A Stenson pass to Cameron Gurnsey went off his face mask and in to the hands of Goicoechea at the Bulldog 21 and he ran it in for the pic-six. The point after was missed ending the first half with the Bulldogs up 27-20.
The third quarter belonged to the Wolf Pack as they put up 28 un-answered points. The Pack received the second half kick and drove 74-yards in 9 plays with Dorcheus diving in from a yard out for the first score of the half. Measures point after tied the game once again at 27-27.
The Bulldogs set up their first position of the half on their own 30-yard line. The first play from scrimmage was a pass to Rueso Batterman who was hit hard by two defenders forcing the ball to pop out. Glacier recovered the fumble on the 30 and with momentum on there side was ready to take the lead. They did just that 5 plays later when Sliter connected with Bridger Smith from 14 yards out to take the lead for good 33-27. The Measure kick was no good and the score stood, but not for long.
Just over a minute and a half later, after forcing a Bulldog three and out, Cohen Kastelitz got behind the Bulldog defense and Sliter found him for a 56-yard scoring strike. With less than seven minutes gone in the third quarter, Measures kick put the Wolf Pack up 40-27.
Glacier wasn’t done, a Bulldog punt was downed at the 6-yard line. Sliter put together a 7 play 94-yard drive featuring the running game with Dorcheus running between the tackles to the Bulldog 10. With 1:28 to play in the quarter Sliter connected with his tight end Van Scholten. Glacier added a 2-point conversion by Goicoechea for the final score of the quarter and a 48-27 lead.
Jace Stenson started the fourth with four passes to Luedtke and a 29 yard catch by Gurnsey to take the Dogs to Glaciers 6-yard line. The Dogs capped the 71-yard drive on the ninth play with Stenson taking it to the end zone from a yard out for his second rushing touchdown and his fifth score of the game. Duffy added the point after the Butte High was down 48-34.
The Bulldog defense came up with another key stop giving the ball back to their offense with 9 minutes to play. Stenson went back to his favorite target of the night, Hudson Luedtke, who caught 8 passes for 155 yards. The two connected four times on the 80-yard drive which, appropriately, ended with a 28 yard catch and run to the end zone by Luedtke. Duffy hit another point after and the bulldog comeback had brought them within a score at 48-41 with 7:17 to play.
Glacier took advantage of the Bulldog defense that had spent much of the second half on the field. The Wolf Pack used a pack of fresh legged running backs to put together a clock eating 79-yard 12 play drive. Glacier finished the drive with a 12-yard run to pay dirt by Goicoechea with 2:28 to play giving the Wolf Pack up by 14.
Stenson brought the Dogs out looking for a miracle finish but all hope ended on an interception by Glacier with 2 minutes to play.
The Bulldogs ended the night with 448 yards of offense with Jace Stenson connecting on 24 of 37 attempts for 349 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also ran for 2 scores and 71 yards.
Glacier finished with 527 yards of offense with 253 on the ground and 274 in the air, Sliter was 19 of 30 passing for 274 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
The Bulldogs return home next Friday night to host the Missoula Hellgate nights.
the fourth reception was a 28 yard scoring strike to the freshmen and a Duffy kick brought the Dogs within