MISSOULA — The Butte Bulldogs and Missoula Sentinel Spartans went down to the wire, before Casey Kautzman hit a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 39-36 Western AA football win to remain unbeaten in 2019.
On Thursday night, the Bulldogs and Spartans came into a highly anticipated matchup with both teams unbeaten at 4-0.
It was an offensive display from the start.
On the opening drive, Butte rolled down the field, capping the possession with a Tommy Mellott quarterback keeper from 10 yards out to make it 7-0.
Sentinel responded all night long, though. On the Spartans' second play from scrimmage, Dayton Bay found receiver Preston Jones over the middle. Jones evaded two tackles and ran it 70 yards in for the Spartans' first touchdown of the game.
After both teams scored in the back-and-forth game, the Spartans took the lead on a Jaxon Lee run to make it 36-28 entering the fourth quarter. Butte responded in the fourth: With 10 minutes left, Mellott found Kameron Moreno wide open on a play-action wheel route that led to a 29-yard touchdown to tie it at 36.
With the game still tied, Sentinel had the ball in the red zone with 5:30 left on the clock. Bay lofted one looking for the go-ahead score, but it was intercepted by Ryan Neil. Neil took the ball down to the Sentinel 47-yard line, and Butte managed to hold the ball the final five minutes of the game, leaving three seconds for a game-winning, 37-yard field goal attempt. Kautzman nailed the kick as time expired to win 39-36.
Bay connected with Jones for seven catches, 178 yards and three touchdowns. Lee added 62 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
Mellott finished the game 23-of-25 passing with 321 yards and four touchdowns. Moreno added 112 yards on the ground and two total touchdowns, one in the air.
Neither team led by more than one score at any point in the game.
Sentinel (4-1) will take on crosstown rival Big Sky (1-3) while Butte (5-0) will face Helena Capital (3-1) next week.