BC scores late to rally past Beavs, 24-21

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Dillon linebacker Kaden Pittman (24) wraps up Billings Central ball carrier Hunter Doyle during the State A quarterfinal playoff game in Billings on Saturday. The Rams scored late to rally past Dillon, 24-21. J.P. Plutt photo

Big play

Dillon’s Eli Nourse takes a ball off the helmet of a Central defender, lands and spins, and sprints untouched to the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-17 lead with 7:13 left in the game. J.P. Plutt photo

The Dillon Beavers took their punches in the first half, maybe even a standing 8-count, but rallied in the second half to twice go ahead of the Billings Central Rams. Central needed a 16-play, 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, including converting two fourth down plays, to score and take the lead with less than a minute left in the game. A short drive with 57 seconds left ended near midfield as time expired, ending Dillon’s season.

“It was a really cool, renewed rivalry with Billings Central,” said Dillon coach Zach McRae. “It felt like we got our hearts ripped out just because there never was a point in the game, there was never a point in the week, where I didn’t think we were going to win. That is including coming out of a tough first half that was really dominated by Billings Central.”

Central is built to pound the ball and pound the ball they did with 420 rushing yards for the game. Dillon’s strength is a passing game that features numerous star athletes from the state championship track team from last spring. The forecast heading into the game suggested strong winds throughout and the forecast was right on.

Central scored on half of their four first half possessions, fumbling away a possession once and punting once to go with a field goal, a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

“We just asked our guys to go back to fundamentals,” said McRae. “Just keep throwing punches and let the chips fall wherever they fall and let the score dictate itself.”

Dillon forced a Central fumble three plays into their first possession of the third quarter and maximized the opportunity, driving 46 yards in 9 plays, with quarterback Kee Christiansen packing the ball four straight times for 15 yards and a touchdown with 6:12 left in the third quarter and Dillon trailing, 10-7.

Central went back to their pounding sand scheme with 10 straight running plays. In a big momentum moment for Dillon, the Beavers stopped Central on a fourth down and 7 yards play inside the red zone.

On second down and 8, Kee Christiansen fired a perfect spiral outside to a streaking Caden Hansen. The senior gathered in the ball and went 82 yards for the score and Dillon’s first lead of the game, 14-10.

Central came back with the run, featuring their top runner Clay Oven, 6-2, 200 and a senior heading to the Griz next fall. Oven ran for 193 yards and two touchdowns and completed this 13-play drive with a 5 yard scoring run to push the Rams ahead 17-14 with 7:39 to go in the fourth quarter.

Dillon would not falter and again, with a second down and 8 yard play, Christiansen connected with Eli Nourse on a 63-yard scoring strike and the Beavers went ahead 21-17 with 7:13 left.

The Rams strapped on their helmets and pounded the ball down field, twice on fourth down getting the needed yardage to continue the drive. In all, Central would carry the ball 16 straight times for 80 yards and the game winning score with 57 seconds left in the game.

“It was a tough one and we’ve got that pit in our stomachs today that you work hard to never feel again,” said McRae. “It is the nature of competition and I’m thankful to be in a game where they keep score and there are no participation awards.”