BILLINGS – The Billings Senior Broncs are partying like it’s 1979.
The Broncs, behind three touchdowns from Gabe Sulser, capped an undefeated season with a 33-21 win over Kalispell Glacier in the Class AA state football championship.
Senior last won a state football title in 1979.
Sulser started the scoring with a short touchdown run midway through the first quarter, but Glacier quickly answered.
Wolfpack quarterback Tadan Gilman found receiver Scout Wilcutt deep down the middle of the field to set up another pass to Wilcutt – this one for a score. Glacier took a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but that would be its only lead of the game.
The Wolfpack held that lead for much of the second, but Senior closed the first half in a flurry.
Nate Dick scrambled in the pocket to create something out of nothing and found a wide-open Sulser in the Glacier secondary. Sulser carried Wolfpack defenders to the 1-yard line and would add his second touchdown of the game on the next play.
But the big momentum shift would come a couple possessions later.
With Glacier backed up in the shadow of its own end zone, Gilman dropped back to pass. Instead of finding a Wolfpack receiver, Gilman fired the ball to Broncs linebacker Blake Allred, who had nothing but green turf in front of him. Allred, who said he was battling a sore ankle during practice this week, returned the interception for six, and Senior had a 19-7 lead at the break.
The Broncs kept their foot on the pedal in the second half, with Dick finding the end zone on a naked bootleg that faked out the entire Glacier defense.
Wilcutt would add his second TD reception early in the fourth quarter, but Senior would ice the game on its next possession.
The Broncs took seven minutes off the clock, and, facing a fourth down, Dick rolled to his right and threw a pass up for Sulser in the back of the end zone. Sulser caught the perfectly placed pass between two Wolfpack defenders, and Senior was up 33-14.
Gilman added a rushing touchdown with 1:06 to play, but the game was already in hand.
The Broncs began their frenzied celebration on the sideline before giving coach Chris Murdock his ritualistic water-cooler dousing at midfield. Fans joined the team shortly after and the party, 37 years in the making, was just getting started.
(We’ll have more with the Broncs on www.montanasports.com in the coming days.)