On its fifth play from scrimmage Glacier junior running back Drew Turner took a handoff 68 yards for a touchdown, kicking off a 47-7 rout of Missoula Big Sky on Friday night at Legends Stadium.
Glacier scored on four consecutive possessions to close the first half with a 27-0 lead and take control of a physical contest between a pair of playoff teams.
While the Wolfpack offense was potent once it got the ball, it took awhile for that to happen, as Big Sky plodded away the first quarter with its deliberate running attack. The Eagles chipped nearly eight minutes off the clock on their first drive, moving 68 yards only to stall at the Glacier 12-yard line on a duffed field goal attempt that didn’t make it to the goal line.
Glacier went three-and-out on its first drive, hampered by a bad snap that went over the head of quarterback Tadan Gilman for a loss of 30 yards.
The Wolfpack defense responded as Big Sky bled the clock into the second quarter, forcing three straight incompletions to get the ball back.
On the next play, Turner hit the big one, using his patience to slice through the middle of the Eagles defense and his speed to pull away from the second level for the last 30 yards up the sideline.
That was all the Wolfpack needed, as the defense forced another turnover on downs the next drive. Glacier scored again five plays later on an option keep up the middle from Gilman, who ran 10 yards untouched into the end zone. On the other end of a Big Sky three-and-out the Wolfpack took just two plays to score again, following a 21-yard run from Turner with a flea flicker from Gilman to Scout Willcut for a 37-yard score and a 20-0 lead.
“Big Sky did exactly what they had to do,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said. “They came out, they wanted to keep the ball away from us and they did. It was exactly what their formula had to be: go on a 14-, 15-play drive and take up almost the whole first quarter. Halfway through the second quarter, I think we’d run six plays. Credit our guys, when we did get the ball offensively, for being explosive. Then our defense settled in and kind of figured things out and started to really put the clamps on them.”
Glacier would score one more time before halftime, executing its two minute offense perfectly, capping the half with a 3-yard touchdown from Turner.
Andrew Durado kept the momentum rolling in the third quarter, taking a wide receiver screen 44 yards for a touchdown. Glacier followed on its next possession with a nine-play drive that ended in another Turner touchdown for a 40-point lead.
With the running clock in motion in the fourth quarter, Glacier scored once again on a 45-yard toss from Gilman to a streaking Ethan Larson to take a 47-0 lead.
Big Sky blew the shut out on one big play in the fourth quarter, quarterback Levi Janacaro finding Nick Wakai on the sideline, with the receiver breaking loose from a tackle to outrun the Glacier defense to the end zone for a 45-yard score.
Each team only had a handful of plays after that, with Glacier pulling its starters to get some significant playing time for the junior varsity and the departing seniors during the last regular season home game.
“I’m happy for the seniors and the way they performed tonight,” Bennett said. “That’s what you always want on Senior Night is to have those guys play well.”
Turner finished with 201 yards rushing on 15 carries to add to his three touchdowns. Gilman finished 13 for 19 for 306 yards passing and three touchdowns and Durado had five catches for 133 yards. The big numbers were despite a Legends Stadium field that has turned into a mud pit between the hashes and 20-yard lines.
“There’s some tough kids. Andrew Durado had a great game, Ethan Larson showed his speed out there,” Gilman said. “As slippery as it is, I thought they did a good job of keeping their feet under them.”
Janacaro led Big Sky with 198 yards passing and 93 yards rushing.
The win locked up the second seed in the Class AA playoffs and home-field advantage through the state semifinals. Glacier will host Missoula Sentinel in a first round game next week at Legends Stadium.
Glacier beat Sentinel 63-62 in overtime at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Week 6. The two teams have been in shootouts in three of the last four meetings, Glacier scoring at least 59 points in three of those games.
“I’m really happy with where our team’s at right now,” Bennett said.
“I feel like we’re peaking at the right time, playing our best football. After we got that wake up call three weeks ago we’ve played three really good games. I feel like we’re getting better every week. That’s all you can ask for.
“I just really love where our football team is at. Whoever it is (as an opponent in the playoffs), we just want to next week play the fourth ‘best game in a row.’ I think they’re really figuring things out.”
Big Sky 0 0 0 7 — 7
Glacier 0 27 13 7 — 47
G—Drew Turner 68 run (kick failed), 11:30
G—Tadan Gilman 10 run (Cameron Anderson kick), 6:34
G—Scout Willcut 37 pass from Gilman (Anderson kick), 4:12
G—Turner 2 run (Anderson kick), 0:10
G—Andrew Durado 45 pass from Gilman (run failed), 6:38
G—Turner 1 run (Anderson kick), 2:24
G—Ethan Larson 45 pass from Gilman (Anderson kick), 11:50
BS—Nick Wakai 57 pass from Levi Janacaro (Jim Seielstad kick), 7:48
Big Sky Glacier
First Downs 17 20
Rushes-Yards 37-156 23-199
Passing Yards 198 314
Att-Com-Int 23-10-0 21-15-0
Total Plays-Yards 60-354 44-513
Punt Return-Yards 0-0 2-7
Kickoff Returns-Yards 7-89 2-33
Punts-Avg 4-35 3-43
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-56 6-35
Possession Time 20:02 16:43
RUSHING—Big Sky, Levi Janacaro 24-93, Kadin Lahti 10-48, Nick Wakai 3-15. Glacier, Drew Turner 15-201, Tadan Gilman 5-(-1), Tim Brough 3-(-1).
PASSING—Big Sky, Levi Janacaro 10-23-0-198. Glacier, Tadan Gilman 13-19-0-306, Brady Peiffer 2-2-0-8.
RECEIVING—Big Sky, Nick Wakai 6-167, Kadin Lahti 3-25, David Gibson 1-6. Glacier, Andrew Durado 5-133, Scout Willcut 3-62, Patrick O’Connell 2-49, Ethan Larson 1-45.
SACKS—Glacier, Jared Brenden 1-9, Bryce Grame 1-6, Ethan Baines 1-4.
Friday’s Other Class AA Scores
Bozeman 38, Billings Skyview 16
Great Falls 34, Great Falls Russell 6
Helena 28, Billings West 21
Helena Capital 35, Butte 28
Glacier receiver Scout Willcut hauls in a touchdown pass from Tadan Gilman during the second quarter against Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)
Glacier defenders Cole Crosby (34), Sam Barber (13), and Jared Brenden (42) slam Missoula Big Sky quarterback Levi Janacaro to the ground. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)