BUTTE — The overthrown pass sailed right into the hands of Butte High junior defensive back Torre Tempel, who was momentarily stunned by his team's sudden change of fortune.
"I was kind of in disbelief that I had the ball in my hands," said Tempel. "I had two teammates lead blocking for me and I walked right into the end zone.
Tempel promptly returned the interception for a touchdown and, within the span of two plays, a game that had looked like it would be handily won by a top-ranked Kalispell Glacier game was suddenly up for grabs with Butte cutting the Wolfpack's lead to 21-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Bo Demarais and receiver Rueso Batterman would go on to connect for their second and third touchdowns of the night to give Butte a 28-21 lead — all three scores came on deep vertical routes — and Glacier's tying PAT attempt following a last-minute touchdown drive glanced off the crossbar to preserve a Bulldog comeback that was even more stunning than Butte's Week 1 victory at Billings West.
"We were down but we were never out," said Demarais. "We just kept that trust in each other and believed that we'd come back."
"We knew we were never out," echoed Batterman. "It's just the fact that we never give up as a team. It's the most important part."
The second improbable rally for Butte in three weeks gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 start to Western AA play as they gear up for two straight games on the road, the first against Missoula Big Sky, the next at Kalispell Flathead.
In short, despite the magic the Bulldogs conjured at Naranche Stadium on Friday, this season is just getting underway.
"We're back to getting to work, that's over, it's on to something new," said Butte head coach Arie Grey. "We're playing a really good team in Missoula Big Sky, and we're super excited for that opportunity.
"The kids get a lot of pats on the back, but it's all about what can we do today to get better one percent."
Butte's offense and defense saw what they were capable of in that wild fourth quarter against the Wolfpack. The Bulldogs are now focused on delivering that level of production throughout the entire course of a game.
"Ideally, we'd like to figure something out in the first three quarters of the game," said Grey. "It's kind of the mantra for the week: Let's figure something out in the first part of the game.
"But I'm super proud of the kids. Super proud of how they competed and the coaches. The just hung in there. You get a couple of breaks here and there and good things happen."