MISSOULA – The streak is over.
Nearly six years after Missoula Hellgate last won a varsity football game, the Knights held off a late charge from Great Falls CMR to win 28-20 on Friday. It was the first win for Hellgate in nearly 2,200 days, when the Knights earned a 6-0 victory over Great Falls High on Oct. 5, 2012.
Brandon Coladonato opened the scoring with a 70-yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter, then Jakob Bunch added a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter as Hellgate built a 14-0 lead. The Rustlers sliced into the lead on a Logan Richard fourth-down run, but CMR missed the extra point and trailed 14-6.
The Knights, who had lost 47 consecutive games, 57 counting the forfeited 2016 season, tacked on another score before halftime, with quarterback Rollie Worster hitting Burke McGowan for a 55-yard pass-and-score. Hellgate led 21-6 at halftime.
CMR struck first in the second half, a Bryce Nelson touchdown run following a Hellgate fumble, to cut the lead to 21-12. But Worster found Fisher Richardson later in the third on a 12-yard scoring strike to extend the lead to 16. After Tucker Greenwell brought the Rustlers to within eight, 28-20 with under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
With the streak on the line and their backs against the wall, the Knights’ defense held in the red zone, earning a fourth-down stop on their own 2-yard line with 4:20 remaining to help seal the win.
“For our kids, a lot of them, they were on a 14-game losing streak,” said Hellgate head coach Mick Morris. “Our coaches haven’t won a game since 2012. I’m happy for Hellgate Nation, for all the fans out there that stuck with us and supported us and have been there through the good times and bad. You know, it’s for the community.”
Class AA football scores
Billings West 44, Billings Skyview 0
Butte 39, Missoula Sentinel 38 (OT)
Great Falls High 32, Missoula Big Sky 17
Helena High 20, Helena Capital 17 (PHOTOS)
Kalispell Flathead 28, Kalispell Glacier 27
Missoula Hellgate 28, Great Falls CMR 20
Bozeman 36, Billings Senior 29 (Thursday)