LAUREL -- Miles City built a 21-0 lead by halftime on its way to a 21-16 win over Laurel in an Eastern A football battle in Laurel on Friday night.
The Cowboys put points on the scoreboard on the final play of the first quarter, as Carson Hunter rolled to his right and hit Jess Bellows in the corner of the end zone to give the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead.
Laurel was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, but Miles City defensive lineman Tyler Harms got into the backfield and got his left hand on the punt. He then recovered the blocked punt in the end zone to push Miles City's lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Miles City added points again in the closing minute of the first half. Bellows set up another touchdown with a spectacular grab over the middle. Hunter plunged in from a yard out seconds later to put the Cowboys ahead 21-0 entering halftime.
"Our defensive, I thought, played excellent," Miles City head coach Jeff Regan said. "We caused a lot of turnovers and were physical. We kind of limited their run game, made them throw the ball, made them one-dimensional."
"(The offensive line) is putting in work day in and day out. They're doing it both ways. They're keeping me on my feet and they're doing a hell of a job," Miles City quarterback Carson Hunter said.
Laurel wasn't going to go quietly, though. The Locomotives took the opening drive of the first half and marched down the field. Eli Abe capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to cut the Miles City advantage to 21-6.
The two teams traded punts throughout the remainder of the quarter. Miles City then was able to take a large chunk of time off the clock between two fourth-quarter possessions. After Abe intercepted Hunter late in the fourth quarter, the Miles City defense made a goal-line stand.
Miles City would then take a safety on a punt attempt to prevent a Laurel touchdown. Laurel then took the next possession down the field and scored on a 2-yard pass from Abe to Keagan Campbell with three seconds to play, trimming the Miles City lead to 21-16.
"I think we have a lot of room to improve on our offensive line, defensive line, but I think we played really well (Friday) at times," Regan said. "We got some first downs and ran the clock and kept it out of their hands, and I think that made a big difference."
The Locomotives would recover the onside kick and have an opportunity to win with a Hail Mary, but Abe was intercepted by Jack Cline as time expired, sealing the win for Miles City.
"We just didn't finish drives. Credit that to Laurel, they played a great second half," Regan said. "Our kids kept fighting and that's what I'm most proud of."
Miles City is off to a 3-0 start and will play Havre at home on Sept. 27. Laurel falls to 1-1 and will travel to Havre on Sept. 20.
Class A football scores
Billings Central 35, Sidney 0
Dillon 33, Butte Central 7
Frenchtown 31, Corvallis 3
Glendive 2, Livingston 0 (forfeit)
Hamilton 55, Stevensville 0 (Thursday)
Havre 35, Hardin 12
Miles City 21, Laurel 16
Libby 55, Ronan 6
Polson 21, Browning 6
Whitefish 17, Columbia Falls 14