GREAT FALLS — Three Jace Stenson touchdowns and timely defense led Butte to a 35-21 road victory over Great Falls on Friday in the opening round of the Class AA football playoffs at Memorial Stadium.
Butte, the Western division’s No. 5 seed, won for the first time on the road this season and improved its record to 5-5. The Bulldogs earned a trip to play No. 1 Helena Capital (9-0) in the quarterfinals next week.
Great Falls took a 7-0 advantage with a nine-play scoring drive in the first quarter, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Rafe Longin. But Butte showed it meant business on its next possession — a 19-play drive during which it converted two fourth-down plays and scored with a Jace Stenson TD pass to Jonas Sherman to tie the game 7-7.
The Bulldogs then took the lead just before halftime, as Zach Tierney scored on a short touchdown run to cap a 12-play march and make the score 14-7 at the half.
Great Falls turned the ball over early in the third quarter, which led to a short touchdown pass from Stenson to Cameron Gurnsey to push Butte’s lead to 21-7.
The Bison answered that score with a 10-yard TD run by Longin — his second of the night — but the Bulldogs took back their two-score lead with about six minutes left on a 5-yard run by Trey Hansen.
Stenson iced the win with short touchdown run late in the fourth, putting Butte up 35-14.
Great Falls, the No. 4 seed from the East, ended its season with a 6-4 record.
Other first-round Class AA scores:
Bozeman Gallatin 42, Missoula Big Sky 0 (Highlights below)
Kalispell Glacier 31, Billings Senior 0 (Highlights below)
Missoula Sentinel 50, Great Falls CMR 31 (Highlights below)