By KATIE BROWN
The Daily Inter Lake
Glacier football coach Grady Bennett’s message to the team last week was to start playing with each other and for each other.
That’s what they did Friday, as Glacier led by three touchdowns at the half and then danced its way to its first Class AA win of the season, a 48-14 romp over Helena High at Legends Stadium. The Wolfpack is now 1-3 overall on the season.
“This is the team that we knew we had,” Bennett said. “It just took us a little longer to put it together but I’m really proud of them. It’s why you coach.”
The Wolfpack was 0-3 heading into the matchup with Helena. Glacier started 0-4 last season en route to a 4-5 record.
Last week, Glacier lost 38-22 to Bozeman, where starting quarterback Evan Todd was knocked out of the game early. Bennett said even in a tough game like that he could see things starting to change and it got even better throughout the week.
“We’re on a good curve right now and we improved every day this week,” he said. “I knew tonight was going to be special.”
Glacier ran 164 yards of offense against Helena, led by Preston Blain’s 122 yards and three touchdowns on 26 attempts. Blain’s 14-yard carry at 5:13 in the second quarter gave Glacier a 14-0 lead. Todd threw two touchdown passes, to Danny Anderson and then Cole Crosby, in the last 1:04 of the second quarter to give Glacier a 28-7 lead going into halftime.
Tim Brough scored on a 13-yard carry with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth.
Bennett said he sat down with his offensive line last week before the Bozeman game and reiterated his message — that the team had to come together or the season could fall apart.
“Those kids improved so much,” he said. “Those five kids up front, that was an incredible effort by them. All the credit goes to those five big boys up front.”
The main beneficiaries of the improved O-line play were Blain and Todd. Todd threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns.
“They kept him [Todd] up and they opened holes for Preston,” Bennett said.
On the other side of the ball, Glacier’s defense had a big night, limiting the third ranked Bengals to 14 points.
“Unbelievable,” Bennett said of his defense.
Caleb Blake and Ethan Baines sacked Helena quarterback Ty McGurran and forced a fourth down with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter. McGurran was brought down again in the backfield on the next play and the Bengals were forced to punt. Early the second quarter, the Wolfpack stopped Helena on a fourth and one, again forcing a punt. Garrett Frost intercepted McGurran with 46.2 on the clock and the offense make quick work of it by putting more points on the board 20 seconds later. Frost also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Helena was held to 167 yards of total offense and one of its two touchdowns was a 90-yard punt return.
“They really came together tonight,” Bennett said. ”They had each other’s backs. The offense put them in bad situations, turned the ball over and our defense came out every time, had their backs and got the stop. A couple of times Helena did anything, our offense came out and responded. That just shows you the team really coming together, playing for each other, playing with each other and that’s what we’re all about, so that was good.”
After the Wolfpack scored its first touchdown, Bennett did something a little different with the extra point attempt and decided to go for two, figuring Helena might be caught by surprise. Glacier converted for an 8-0 lead early in the first.
“We’ve been struggling with our kicking game,” Bennett said. “It’s just been really hit or miss so we thought we’d go for it right away.”
Bennett said kicker Carter Purdy had been battling an injury, which led to some inconsistency. Purdy returned to go 5-6 on the night against Helena.
Next Friday, Glacier will face off with crosstown rival Flathead at Legends.
Helena High 0 7 7 0 – 14
Glacier 8 20 7 13 – 48
GLA – Travis Proulx 14 pass from Evan Todd (PAT run Preston Blain)
GLA – Blain 5 run (PAT pass Drew Deck failed)
HHS – Zachary Spiroff 90 punt return (Caven Wade kick)
GLA – Danny Anderson 50 pass from Todd (Carter Purdy kick)
GLA – Cole Crosby 12 pass from Todd (Purdy kick)
HHS – Ty McGurran 2 run (Wade kick)
GLA – Blain 1 run (Purdy kick)
GLA – Blain 35 run (Purdy kick)
GLA – Tim Brough 13 run (Purdy kick failed)
First downs 10 23
Rushes-yards 77 164
Passing 90 260
Comp-Att-Int 8-14-1 16-25-3
Punts-avg. 5-27.8 3-44
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-63 6-57
RUSHING – Helena High, Grady Koenig 27-49, Garrett Bywater 2-11, Ty McGurran 8-9, Aiden Brus 1-8. Glacier, Preston Blain 26-122, Tim Brough 5-35, Evan Todd 3-5, Cole Crosby 1-2.
PASSING – Helena High, Ty McGurran 8-14-1-90. Glacier, Evan Todd 16-25-3-260.
RECEIVING – Helena High, Zachary Spiroff 2-35, Aiden Brus 2-20, Hayden Ferguson 1-16, Alex Johnson 1-10. Glacier, Drew Deck 5-111, Cole Crosby 4-38, Danny Anderson 3-83, Colin Bowden 2-16.
INTERCEPTIONS – Helena High, Zachary Spiroff, Hayden Ferguson, Cooper Biegler. Glacier, Garrett Frost.