By KATIE BROWN
The Daily Inter Lake
A fumble recovery and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter paved the way for the Glacier Wolfpack’s 35-21 Class AA football win against the Helena Capital Bruins at Legends Stadium on Friday night.
Glacier is now 3-5 overall after two straight wins and has a shot at making the AA playoffs, something that didn’t seem likely just a few short weeks ago after starting off 0-3 and then 1-5. The Wolfpack defeated Great Falls 42-38 in Week 7.
“These guys, they have put themselves back in a position to make it happen,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said. “We’ve just got to take care of business, keep getting better. Two more and we’ve got a shot at getting in. I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”
Trailing 21-14 entering the fourth quarter, a fumble recovery sparked Glacier on both sides of the ball.
“It ignited us and got our energy and enthusiasm going on the sideline and then we just ripped it,” Bennett said. “That was a huge, huge play. We talk about it … you hustle, because sometimes luck follows speed. So you fly around and it worked out for us. We turned them over.”
Preston Blain led the charge by running for two touchdowns in the fourth, one for 49 yards and the other 23. His 205 yards placed him fourth all-time for Glacier in rushing yards with a total of 1,165 on the season. He may not crack Drew Turner’s program record 1,666 rushing yards set in 2017, but he could come close.
Blain rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter and ran the ball in on a crucial two-point conversion that tied the game 14-14 just before the half.
“He’s a special back,” Bennett said of Blain. “Tonight, what I’ve really never seen him do like that, was he was so patient. He got up in there, followed his guys and sometimes he’d take it outside, other times he’d tuck it back in inside his pulling guards. He was a really good running back tonight at a level that I hadn’t seen.”
Garrett Frost recovered a fumble in the first quarter, and the 31-yard drive resulted in Carter Purdy kicking a 21-yard field goal after Capital stymied the Wolfpack twice near the goal line. Purdy kicked a second field goal on Glacier’s next possession for a 6-0 lead.
Capital came roaring back with two touchdowns in less than two minutes and led 14-6 before Blain’s TD.
In its past two games, Glacier had been outscored 35-0 in the fourth quarter. Friday, the Wolfpack outscored Capital 21-0 in the fourth, a marked improvement that Bennett attributes to “playing to win.”
Quarterback Evan Todd threw for 237 yards and connected with Cole Crosby in the fourth, his only touchdown pass of the night. Drew Deck led the Wolfpack with seven receptions for 113 yards.
“I’m just so proud of this group of kids and the lessons they’re learning and what they’re teaching themselves about who they are and what they can be,” Bennett said.
Glacier’s defense had a good night as well, holding Capital to just 64 yards on the ground.
“I felt like it was a great team win,” Bennett said. “Our defense really buckled down when they had to. In that second half especially, shutting them down and every time they really needed to get a stop. Our offense got it going and then our special teams again were dynamite. I felt like at all three phases it was a great team victory.”
Capital 0 14 7 0 – 21
Glacier 6 8 0 21 – 35
G – Carter Purdy 21 kick
G – Purdy 25 kick
C – Cy Miller 7 pass from Bridger Grovom (Brian Buschini kick good)
C – Brady Martin 17 pass from Grovom (Buschini kick good)
G – Preston Blain 2 run (Blain run)
C – Miller 29 pass from Grovom (Buschini kick good)
G – Cole Crosby 7 pass from Evan Todd (Purdy kick good)
G – Blain 49 run (Purdy kick good)
G – Blain 23 run (Purdy kick good)
RUSHING – Capital: Brennan Casey 17-60, Bridger Grovom 1-2, Parker Johnson 1-2; Glacier: Preston Blain 37-205, Evan Todd 6-47, Drew Deck 2-2.
PASSING – Capital: Bridger Grovom 16-25-0-3-236; Bigfork: Evan Todd 17-29-0-1-237.
RECEIVING – Capital: Brady Martin 6-128, Cy Miller 4-48, Parker Johnson 3-18, Kaelan Casey 1-27, Quinn Belcher 1-13, Brennan Casey 1-2; Glacier: Drew Deck 7-113, Preston Blain 4-44, Danny Anderson 2-46, Colin Bowden 2-9, Travis Proulx 1-18, Cole Crosby 1-7.