LOCKWOOD -- With winds gusting between 25 and 30 miles per hour all day, Laurel's ground game beat Billings Central's aerial attack in Saturday's State A football championship, as the Locomotives rolled to a 34-0 win for their first state title since 2002.
Laurel forced four turnovers, including three interceptions, and Jack Waddell scored three touchdowns as the Locomotives got revenge for a 28-14 regular-season loss to the Rams.
Defenses took control early. Winds made temperatures in the 40s feel like the 20s, as neither team could score until midway through the second quarter. Waddell took a pitch 29 yards down inside the 5-yard line, but he fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line. A Laurel player recovered the fumble in the end zone, however, to put the Locos up 7-0 at halftime.
Laurel got the ball to start the second half, and Waddell quickly doubled the Locomotives' advantage, taking another carry 62 yards for a touchdown for a 14-0 lead. Central then began to throw the ball more in an effort to come back, but quarterback Marcus Wittman was intercepted by Shel Osborne first, then Waddell again later in the third.
In between, Eli Aby plunged in from 2 yards to give the Locomotives a 20-0 commanding lead. Former Billings Senior running back Brock Ping fumbled early in the fourth to give the ball back to Laurel. Aby finished that drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Waddell to make it 27-0.
The nail in the coffin came with 4:30 to play, as Beau Dantic ran for a 74-yard TD to make it a 34-0 game.
The title is Laurel head coach Mike Ludwig's first since his first year taking over the program in 2002.