Dillon runs past Laurel, 54-27

Dillon senior captain Mick Paffhausen breaks away for one of his six touchdowns during Saturday’s playoff win over Laurel. Paffhausen scored on a punt return, interception return and caught three scoring passes. He booted a point after touchdown to total 37 points in the game. J.P. Plutt photo


The Dillon Beavers strive for improvement on a daily basis and that dedication to the team concept revealed itself Saturday during Dillon’s 54-27 win over Laurel in the quarterfinal round of the Montana Class A playoff.  The Beavers raced out to a 40-6 lead with 1:17 to go in the first half.

“We were really good,” said Dillon coach Rick Nordahl.  “It got ugly early, and you’re talking about a good football team that we struggled with early in the year and only beat 26-7 (week two).”

Nordahl and his staff did all they could to keep from running up the score including substantial playing time for the backups in the second half.  Laurel would gain a substantial bulk of their rushing yardage with Dillon’s younger players gaining valuable playoff playing time – an experience that will pay off in future seasons.  In the give and take, with Laurel fighting to win the game, the Locomotives gained 187 of their 278 rushing yards after Dillon led 40-6.

“They got a lot of yards against our non-starters,” said Nordahl who calls the defense.  “That doesn’t bother me, you have to play to win.  Their number ones were better than our number twos.”

Dillon senior captain Mick Paffhausen, a state hurdle champion last spring, put his track speed to use in all three phases of the game to score six touchdowns on the afternoon.  The highlight reel performance included an 85 yard punt return, a 38 yard interception return, and four receiving touchdowns of 70, 26, 16 and 17 yards.

“It was a special performance and he’ll give the credit to his teammates for making the blocks, but he played at a different level with his speed,” said Nordahl.  “Basically, every time he had the ball he was a threat to go the distance.”

Junior quarterback J.D. Ferris opened the scoring for Dillon with a 4 yard keeper in the first quarter.  He connected with senior tight end Troy Scott on a 12 yard scoring play to give Dillon a 12-0 lead after one quarter.

The second quarter excitement included four Paffhausen touchdowns and three scores in 33 seconds of game clock.  Paffhausen broke a punt return 85 yards for a score at the 8:33 mark, followed by a Dillon coverage breakdown and a 65 yard scoring play on a pass from Tyler Thompson to Jonah Oberg and Laurel’s first play after the kickoff.  On Dillon’s ensuing first down play, Paffhausen gathered in a throw from Ferris and broke loose for a 70 yard touchdown.

Paffhausen scored on passes of 26 and 16 yards late in the second quarter, the last of which occurred with 1:17 left in the half.  Laurel bounced back with a score 1:16 later to close out the half trailing 40-12.

Dillon popped for two scores early in the second half to put the game out of reach, 54-12.  Paffhausen grabbed a 17 yard touchdown pass from Ferris, and then returned an interception 38 yards for a score.

Laurel added a third quarter touchdown and with 1:43 left in the game scored again to account for the 54-27 final.

On the afternoon, Dillon gained 401 yards of offense, 168 on the ground and 241 through the air.  Ferris was an efficient 11 of 13 throwing the ball with five touchdowns and 218 yards.  One of the two incompletions was a drop.

Paffhausen led the receiving corps with four catches for 129 yards and four touchdowns.  Colton Reibe ran 12 times for 88 yards to pace the running back.  Six different ball carriers notched rushes and six different Beavers caught passes.

Laurel relied almost exclusively on the run, gaining 278 yards on 42 rushes.  The Locomotives completed just 4 of 14 throws for 79 yards, but half of those completions resulted in scores.