BILLINGS — Billings West started fast and didn’t slow down in a 28-10 first-round Class AA playoff victory over Missoula Big Sky on a cold Friday night at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
The Bears took a 7-0 lead four plays into the game on a short touchdown run by Malachi Claunch. After a Big Sky turnover, Claunch scored another rushing TD to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Eagles got a field goal to cut into the deficit in the second quarter, but West tacked on two more touchdowns as Matt Ludwig caught a pair scoring passes from Drew McDowell to go up 28-3 at halftime, the first on a leaping, one-handed grab.
The score remained the same until Drew Martins found the end zone on a 1-yard run with about 1:30 left in the game to pull the Eagles to within 28-10, but that’s as close as they would get.
Claunch finished with 93 rushing yards on just eight attempts to lead West, while teammate Reece Valdez had 54 yards on 15 carries. Ludwig caught eight passes for 83 yards. McDowell completed 26 of 37 passes for 199 yards.
Martins was 17-for-27 passing for 193 yards for Big Sky but was intercepted three times. Colter Ramos had eight catches for 90 yards. Joey Sandberg rushed for 52 yards on 16 carries for Big Sky.
West improved its overall record to 6-4 and advanced to face defending state champion Helena Capital in the quarterfinals next week. Big Sky ended the year with a 3-7 record.
To see the full Class AA playoff pairings and bracket, click here.
Elsewhere in Class AA ...
Missoula Sentinel 28, Great Falls 7
Butte 42, Billings Senior 29
Helena 48, Billings Skyview 14