For a hard-hitting, defense oriented first half, it looked like the Clark Fork Mountain Cats (Alberton/Superior co-op) had their hands full keeping their unblemished season record and No. 2 state ranking intact.
After trading punts with visiting Plains the game was scoreless until Clark Fork junior Jake Callaway finally broke through the stubborn Horsemen defense on his way to a 38-yard touchdown romp with 3:23 left in the opening quarter.
That was first blood in what would prove to be a smash-mouth first half before the Mountain Cats offense got on track in the second half on the way to a 46-12 Montana 8-man football victory over Plains Friday night in Superior.
The win kept Clark Forks’ record perfect at 8-0, while Plains fell to 3-4 on the year.
With both defenses digging in and making plays and some untimely penalties on each team, the score remained 6-0 until the Mountain Cats passing attack produced a long drive that culminated with a 1-yard scoring toss from junior quarterback Bryan Mask to Isaiah Kovalsky at the 8:27 mark in the second quarter, doubling the Cats lead.
The two teams traded turnovers, an interception by Clark Fork that the Plains defense managed to shut down without damage, and a Mountain Cats fumble recovered by Plains that likewise produced no points for the Horsemen.
With 2:03 left in the opening half, Plains standout running back/linebacker Esvin Reyes went down with a leg injury and left the game with Plains in possession deep in their own territory.
Clark Fork nearly had a safety on a stop near the goal line, setting up a second-and-13 at the 2. On the next play, Horsemen quarterback Treydon Brouillette raced around end and broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run to pull Plains within six at the half, 12-6.
Defense continued to set the tone in the early minutes of the second half when Plains safety Kade Parlee picked off a Mask pass. Once again the Clark Fork defense dug in and stopped a Plains drive on a fourth down situation.
Bouyed by the return of Reyes, the Horsemen defense held until Mask found running back Jake Callaway who caught the ball and scooted 25 yards into the end zone with 5:42 to go in the third quarter, giving the Mountain Cats a 20-6 lead.
On Plains’ next possession, Clark Fork defender Hewston Coon scooped up a fumble and rambled six yards for a score, upping the Cats lead to 26-6.
Just over a minute later, Kovalsky intercepted a Brouillette pass giving Clark Fork the ball on their own 35-yard line. A series of runs, including a 22-yard burst by Mask set up a 3-yard dive by Wesley Buchanan that pushed the Mountains Cats’ advantage to 32-6.
Clark Fork continued their scoring onslaught in the final quarter, adding an 8-yard TD run by Trey Green and a 62-yard scoring strike from Mask to Kovalsky that put the Cats up 46-6 with 9:33 to go in the game.
With the clock running non-stop via the Mercy Rule, Plains managed to put together one last scoring drive, this one a 3-yard TD flip from Brouillette to Pardee with 49 seconds left on the clock.
Clark Fork, which can clinch homefield playoff action with another win, closes out the regular season with a road game against Arlee.
Meanwhile, Plains can even its season record at 4-4 with a win over Troy in the Horsemen’s final home game against Troy. Both games are Friday night.