Beavers hold on for key Homecoming win

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Circle of trust

Eight Dillon Beaver defenders rally to the ball and hold a Frenchtown running play to no gain during the early going of Friday’s win over the Broncs, 27-21. J.P. Plutt photo


Dillon’s Jonathan Kirkley stretches for a ball Friday night. Kirkley has been slowly working towards a return to his former level of play after an injury in Dillon’s season opening game. J.P. Plutt photo

The Dillon Beavers took yet another step on their Redemption Tour on Friday night with a 27-21 win over the Frenchtown Broncs. The outcome was undecided until the final seconds ticked off of the game clock.

The Beavers had reclaimed the lead in the fourth quarter at 27-21 with a quarterback sneak from Kee Christiansen from 2 yards out. The clock showed 5:33 left in the game.

Frenchtown took to the ground game on their ensuing possession and pounded their way downfield with eight straight runs for 54 yards. Facing a Frenchtown attempt at a third down and six yards for a first down at Dillon’s own 12 yard line, the Beavers held for a negative four yards prompting a fourth down call from Frenchtown and slew of timeouts with 39 seconds showing on the clock.

The sequence, deep in Dillon territory, started with a time-out from Frenchtown and then a false start on their offense. Following the reset, Frenchtown again called timeout.

The ensuing play formation struck Dillon coach Zach McRae as odd and he called a time-out.

“They came up in what we thought was an illegal formation,” explained McRae. “They had no receivers to the right, two running backs in the backfield, and two receivers to the left, so no eligible receivers to the right side.

“We had an outside linebacker and a corner over there, and I just called a timeout because I didn’t like the way it looked.”

From the referee’s view, the illegal formation call cannot be made until the snap due to the opportunity of the offense to shift into a legal formation. In any event, the Dillon timeout led to another Frenchtown timeout, the fourth such suspension of play with 39 seconds on the clock. Frenchtown called a pass play and Dillon’s Treyton Graham had blanket coverage on the intended Frenchtown receiver in the end zone. The pass flew and the receiver made a nice move to get his hands on the ball, but the referee on top of the play ruled that the ball had skipped off the ground and thus, was incomplete.

The Beavers took a knee on the ensuing play and time expired on the Homecoming victory and a celebration erupted.

The Beaver lost their first two games of the season, the second against Hamilton in lackluster fashion. Dillon coach Zach McRae and his staff and team have acknowledged the set-back for Beaver football that the second consecutive home loss represented and have worked diligently to repair their reputation as one of the finest high school football program’s in the state.

While the Beavers seemed at times in control of this game on Friday, Dillon miscues allowed Frenchtown to hang around and at the end, give them a chance at stealing away from Beaverhead County with a victory.

“This was an enormous win in terms of standings, in terms of a physical game with an opponent that we jumped out on them and they were able to crawl back,” said McRae on Monday. “It was a little reminiscent of the Whitefish game and shows progress, that our kids are believing and doing a good job of just staying in the fight.”

Dillon won the game despite giving the ball away on turnovers three times, while Frenchtown retained a clean slate in the turnover department. The Beavers lost possession with two lost balls on three fumbles and an interception.

The Beavers led 13-0 midway through the second quarter when a Kee Christiansen pass interception led to a Frenchtown scoring drive to narrow the score to 13-7 with 1:32 left in the first half.

In the third quarter, Dillon failed to get a first down and punted away following their opening possession. Frenchtown grabbed momentum with a nine-play, 50-yard scoring drive, with all of the yardage gained via the run. Frenchtown successfully booted the try to take their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 6:13 left in the third quarter.

Dillon kept Frenchtown’s lead short lived as Christiansen connected with Kale Konen on a 42 yard scoring play to give Dillon a 19-14 lead at the 4:57 mark in the third quarter.

Dillon fumbled a punt away at the end of the third quarter and Frenchtown converted the mistake into a touchdown off a seven-play drive, to take a 21-19 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Frenchtown inflicted most of their damage on the offensive side via the running game and for the game, totaled 218 yards on 45 rushing attempts. The Beavers managed just 55 yards on 23 carries.

Dillon’s statistical edge came from the passing game. Christiansen completed 19 of 32 throws for 252 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. Frenchtown connected on 5 of 15 passes for just 65 yards.

The Beavers travel to Butte and the Montana Tech stadium to face the Butte Central Maroons Friday night, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. The Beavers will be at full strength in the rivalry game.