SHELBY — Drummond-Philipsburg continued its unbeaten season by rallying to defeat Shelby on the road in the semifinals of the 8-Man football playoffs on Saturday afternoon, 28-20. The Titans will advance to their second consecutive 8-Man state championship game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. They fought, fought, fought,” Drummond-Philipsburg head coach Mike Cutler said. “I would never doubt our kids. They played their butts off, they’ve got a bunch of heart, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Shelby scored on the game’s opening drive when quarterback Damon Irvin found Dillon Luly for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Coyotes up 6-0. But as they did all day, the defending champion Titans had an answer. Colby Manley finished off a long drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion gave Drummond-Philipsburg an 8-6 advantage.
After forcing a Shelby punt, Drummond-Philipsburg drove deep into Coyote territory before quarterback Kade Cutler fumbled inside the Shelby 5-yard line. On the next play, Shelby’s Wyatt Brusven took the handoff 76 yards to put the Coyotes back on top, 14-8.
Again, The Titans answered. They began to take advantage of wide receiver Jaxon Lee being defended one-on-one on the outside, picking up large chunks of yardage to move down the field. Then, Lee beat his man and made a great play to come back to the ball for a 27-yard touchdown catch to tie things at 14 late in the second quarter. That would remain the score through the third quarter, as the two teams traded punts.
The turnover bug struck Drummond-Philipsburg again, this time deep in its own territory in the fourth quarter. Cutler fumbled trying to pitch to Lee, allowing Shelby a short field. The Coyotes took advantage, scoring on a 1-yard run by Tanner Parsons to take a 20-14 lead with 8:15 to play.
Then Lee took over. Just over a minute after Shelby’s touchdown, Lee took a slant 59 yards, sprinting by a pair of Shelby defenders into the end zone, tying the game at 20 with 7:09 left. Just three plays later, Lee intercepted a pass by Irvin and set the Titans up on the Shelby side of midfield. On the Titans’ first offensive play following the interception, Cutler kept it himself and scampered 37 yards for the score. Cutler’s two-point conversion pass was complete to Riley Allen to give Drummond-Philipsburg a 28-20 advantage with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Shelby and Drummond-Philipsburg traded punts, giving the Coyotes one last chance with less than a minute to play. At midfield with 11 seconds left, Irvin couldn’t corral the snap and Kane Hess fell on the fumble to seal the Titans’ second consecutive trip to the 8-Man title game.
“It was two good football teams that have a lot of pride, big-time emotion,” Cutler said.
The Titans did lose starting running back Colby Manley to an injury midway through the second quarter. Manley never returned.
Drummond-Philipsburg will face Great Falls Central at Butte’s historic Naranche Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17.