Up next for the Thompson Falls Blue Hawks, quite literally a long road to the state championship.
After battling a game but out-gunned Twin Bridges squad early on, the Blue Hawks unleashed their bruising running game on the way to a 55-20 first-round 8-man playoff win over the Falcons Friday night in Thompson Falls.
The Thompson Falls win sets up a road trip of Montana-size proportions as they travel to Fairview to take on the unbeaten Warriors, a mere 655 miles away. Fairview won its playoff home opener by pounding Choteau 70-3.
To earn the mega road trip, Thompson Falls, now 9-1 on the year, had to first dispatch Twin Bridges, which came into the game with a 3-5 mark.
Senior quarterback Trey Fisher got things started for the Blue Hawks early on when he scored on a 3-yard quarterback sneak. Coupled with a successful two-point conversion the Blue Hawks were off to an 8-0 lead just 1:23 into the game.
Twin Bridges answered that score a few minutes later when quarterback Bryce Nye found Trystan Harmon for a 53-yard catch and run touchdown at the 9:09 mark of the opening quarter. The failed extra point attempt left Thompson ahead 8-6.
Thompson Falls came storming back on the next possession and appeared to tack on another six, only to have a 61-yard run by Fisher wiped out by a holding penalty. The multi-pronged Blue Hawks rushing attack overcame that miscue and put the points back on the board when running back Nate Wilhite broke free on a 40-yard scoring burst, pushing Thompson Falls to a 14-6 advantage with 5:10 to go in the first quarter.
Twin Bridges evened the score just over a minute later as Harmon sprinted 55 yards through the Blue Hawks defenders for a touchdown that evened the game at 14.
T-Falls took the lead back before the quarter ended, scoring on an option play when Fisher plunged into the end zone from one yard out, boosting the Blue Hawks lead to 20-14.
From then on, it was all Thompson Falls.
The Blue Hawks moved steadily through the Twin Bridges defense to open the second quarter, capping the initial drive on another Fisher quarterback sneak, again from the one. A two-point conversion boosted the Blue Hawks lead to 28-14. The teams traded possessions and Twin Bridges appeared to be poised to cut into the T-Falls lead when their drive was halted by a fumble that was pounced on by Blue Hawks defender Brandon
Zimmerman on the Thompson 11-yard line.
After moving into their own territory behind solid offensive line play that blew holes in the Falcon defense, Fisher once again broke loose on a 38-yard scoring jaunt, upping the Bluehawks lead to 34-14 with 2:34 to go in the first half.
The Falcons got the ball back but were pushed back by a Blue Hawks sack before sophomore Alex Vogelsang intercepted a pass from quarterback Nye, giving Thompson Falls the ball on the Falcon 9-yard line.
With 15 seconds remaining in the half, Blue Hawks running back Dakota Irvine snared an 8-yard touchdown pass in the end zone from Fisher, upping their lead to 41-14 at the end of the half.
Twin Bridges got the ball to open the second half but could not move against the stiff Blue Hawks defense and had to punt.
Again the Thompson Falls running game kicked in and with 7:25 to go in quarter number three, Fisher danced through the Falcon defense on a 5-yard scoring run. A tipped pass on the point after try was eventually hauled in the Thompson Falls, giving the Blue Hawks a 49-14 lead.
With the 35-point mercy rule keeping the clock running mostly non-stop the rest of the way, both teams traded possessions.
On its last drive of the third quarter, the Blue Hawks padded their lead to 55-14 on a short run by Wilhite.
Twin Bridges mounted one last drive, capping things off with a 24-yard touchdown run by Harmon but it was too little, too late as the Blue Hawks ran out the clock in a 55-20 win.