HELENA — Glacier showed it has quite a bit of firepower in its new-look offense, running away with a 35-7 Class AA football victory over Helena High on Friday night at Vigilante Stadium.
The Wolfpack (1-0) overpowered Helena (0-1) with a mix of potent offense and suffocating defense to beat the Bengals on the road for the second time in as many tries. Glacier was 0-7 all-time against Helena before last season’s playoffs.
Glacier struck quickly, starting with a long return on the opening kickoff, then darting down the field in just a few plays to set up a 3-yard touchdown run from junior running back Drew Turner just 91 seconds into the game.
After another touchdown was called back on an offensive pass interference call in the Wolfpack’s second drive, but Glacier added a score as time expired in the first quarter on a 1-yard dive from quarterback Tadan Gilman. Gilman then found Patrick O’Connell a few minutes later on a 23-yard pass to send the Wolfpack into half with a 21-0 lead.
The Glacier defense was dominant in the win, holding the Bengals to 14 rushing yards in the entire game and just 192 total yards of offense.
“The speed is outstanding (on defense), they pursue so hard, they play so hard together,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said. “Helena has some really good athletes. (Bengals running back Ryan) Arntson, any time he touches it he can score. Our speed matched up well.”
Penalties were the only problem for the Wolfpack, collecting 12 for 150 yards in the game.
Three 15-yard flags in a single drive allowed Helena to set up for a 10-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. That was the only significant offense the Bengals could muster, however, with the fast Glacier defense disrupting plays in the backfield.
Turner would answer the Helena score with a touchdown just minutes later to restore Glacier’s 21-point lead. Gilman had a touchdown called back for hurdling a defender, an illegal move in Montana prep football, but capped the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Turner.
“For most of (our players) this was their first chance to get out on the football field,” Bennett said. “You never know how they’re going to do, but I just couldn’t be happier with the things that I saw tonight.
“It was such a fantastic effort. The physicality that we played with on both fronts — the offensive and defensive lines — was outstanding. Obviously Tadan played a fantastic first game as a quarterback. That’s going to be fun.”
Gilman finished 19 for 32 with 334 passing yards and 64 rushing yards in his first outing under center for the Wolfpack. Turner also impressed, rushing for 123 yards on 26 carries.
“It’s been a well-kept secret. We know how special he can be,” Bennett said. “Against a tough Helena front, they’re always so tough to run the ball against. Really, until last year in the playoffs, we had never done anything in our history against them in the run game. To have Drew get his first game and go over 100 (yards rushing) and we end up almost 200 in the run game is outstanding. You just don’t do that against their defense.”
Jackson Pepe led the team with 78 yards receiving and Andrew Durado had two catches for 75 yards. Scout Willcut had a team high seven catches for 50 yards.
The Wolfpack is back on the road next week to play defending state champion Bozeman. The Hawks opened their season with a bye, originally scheduled to play Hellgate, which is forfeiting the season.
Glacier 35, Helena High 7
Glacier 14 7 7 7 — 35
Helena 0 0 7 0 — 7
GLA – Drew Turner 3 run (Cameron Anderson kick), 10:29
GLA – Tadan Gilman 1 run (Anderson kick), :00
GLA – Patrick O’Connell 23 pass from Gilman (Anderson kick), 1:36
HHS – Derrick Olsen 10 pass from Kaleb Winterburn (Max Morris kick), 4:55
GLA – Turner 2 run (Anderson kick), 1:17
GLA – Turner 35 pass from Gilman (Anderson kick), 10:17
First downs 25 14
Rushing 44-186 26-14
Comp-Att-Int 19-32-0 14-26-0
Passing yards 334 178
Total offense 520 192
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Punts-avg 3-26 8-35
Penalties 12-150 6-35
RUSHING – GLA: Drew Turner 26-123, Tadan Gilman 14-64, Scout Willcut 1-1, Cole Crosby 3-minus 2. HHS: Ryan Arntson 11-15, Keair Adgerson 5-14, Kyle Tabbert 1-8, Kaleb Winterburn 9-minus 23.
PASSING – GLA: Gilman 19-32-0-334. HHS: Winterburn 14-26-0-178.
RECEIVING – GLA: Jackson Pepe 3-78, Ethan Larson 2-36, Andrew Durado 2-75, Turner 2-42, Kyle Mulcahy 1-17, Patrick O’Connell 2-36, Willcut 7-50. HHS: Taylor England 2-15, Derrick Olsen 5-63, Arntson 6-84, Max Morris 1-16.