BILLINGS – On a frigid Friday night at Herb Klindt Field, the game was closer than the final. But the end result was a familiar one.
Billings Central is still unbeaten.
The Rams pulled away late to beat Laurel 28-7 in the Class A football semifinal game to reach next week’s championship game. It marks Central’s first title appearance since 2013. The Rams will face Saturday’s winner between Hamilton (10-0) and Columbia Falls (8-1).
Jack Studer put Central on the board with 16 seconds left in the first quarter on an 18-yard touchdown run. Less than a minute into the second quarter, Duncan Kraft broke free for a 69-yard score giving the Rams a 14-0 lead.
Central looked primed to score again, but the Rams fumbled near the goal line settling for a 14-0 halftime lead.
Laurel (8-3) forced two more turnovers, then took advantage cutting the lead in half when Cameron Younger ran it in from 25 yards with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
Central (11-0) answered with a convincing 80-yard drive when Kraft produced his second score of the game on a 6-yard run.
Laurel’s ensuing drive stalled on a 4th and 1. Studer punched in moments later from a yard out for his second touchdown of the night and a 28-7 lead with 2:40 remaining.
Studer finished the game with 191 yards rushing, and Kraft added 132. In all, Central finished with 377 rushing yards on 51 carries. The Rams did the turn the ball over three times — losing three fumbles — but Chrishon Dixon snagged two interceptions for the Rams. He now has four INTs in just two playoff games.
Friday marked Laurel’s first semifinal appearance in 16 years.