Cats drop Corvallis
Tristan Crane and Branden Torpen celebrate the Wildcats’ win over Corvallis on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Wildcats Austin Dodson, Mark Robison, Hunter Goodman and Alihn Anderson stop Blue Devil Logan Avery in his tracks Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Freshman Banyan Johnston makes a touchdown pass to Jace Hill. (Avery Howe photo)
Jace Hill celebrates a Wildcat touchdown in Corvallis on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Alihn Anderson dodges the Blue Devils’ defense on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Kai Golan kicks off for the Wildcats in Corvallis on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Lane Hoerner and the rest of the Wildcats lead their crowd in the Wildcat fight song after winning the Montana A semifinal match against Corvallis on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Avery Howe photo)
Editor | November 15, 2023 2:00 AM
On a windy Saturday in Corvallis, the Columbia Falls football team dropped the Blue Devils 19-7 to advance to state A championship against Dillon.
The Wildcats took a 19-0 lead in the first half and then the bend-but-don’t-break defense stalled all but one of the Blue Devils’ attempts to score.
The game opened with Corvallis driving down the the Cats’ own 22 yard line, but Columbia Falls stopped the Blue Devils on fourth down to take possession, they then drove the length of the field and senior quarterback Cody Schweikert punched it in from 2 yards out for the first TD. The extra point was blocked, Cats up 6-0.
The Cats then stopped Corvallis on the Blue Devils’ 29 and Mark Robison returned the punt to the 42. The Cats drove down the the Blue Devils’ 1 yard line and Schweikert punched it in again. This time the point after kick by Kai Golan was good and the Cats were up 13-0.
Corvallis would drive down to the Cats 14 on the next possession, but Columbia Falls stopped them again on fourth down with 3:38 left in the half.
The Cats couldn’t get anything going and had to punt.
But on the next Blue Devil possession, Mark Robison picked off an Adyn Mayn pass on a tip by teammate Austin Dodson to regain possession on their own 27. Helped by a face mask penalty where the defender tore Schweikert’s helmet off on a scramble, the Cats drove the length of the field. With the ball on the 23, backup quarterback Banyan Johnston came into the game lined up in the backfield. Schweikert handed the ball off to him and Johnston threw a pass to Jace Hill in the end zone for another Cat TD.
The point after kick was off the mark, but the Cats were up 19-0 at the break.
In the third quarter Corvallis would get its only touchdown to make it 19-7 on a 5-yard run by Logan Avery.
The Cats couldn’t get anything going on offense to extend the lead, at one point driving down to the Blue Devils’ 25 yard line in the third.
In the fourth the Cats simply did their best to eat up the clock. Corvallis had its chances, but couldn’t get anything going, either and Jace Hill had an interception on Corvallis’s last possession to kill any hope they had of making a comeback with less than 2 minutes left.
The Cats got the ball back and were able to run out the clock on.
Schweikert was 12 of 15 passing for 123 yards and rushed for 56 yards on 31 attempts. Hill caught seven passes for 73 yards and Johnston, a freshman, had that one critical 23 yard TD pass.
“Our kids did it all,” said coach Jaxon Schweikert. “They’ve played banged up. They’ve studied film. They deserved to win and they deserved to be there. Our coaches have, too. I have a great coaching staff that works their butt off. They’re fully prepared and ready to go.”
This Saturday the Cats will look to avenge an earlier season 22-19 loss to the Beavers — a game that came down to the wire as the Cats were inside the 10 with seconds left to play but went for the touchdown rather than the game-tying field goal.
In that game, Columbia Falls simply made too many mistakes, including a bad snap on a punt that resulted in a Beaver touchdown and a called fumble that Dillon ran back for a score that, in retrospect, was an incomplete pass.
Dillon (10-0) is coming off a 26-14 win over Lewistown.
They’re led by quarterback Kee Christiansen, who has a quarterback rating of 112.9, but a completion percentage of just 54%.
Dillon leans heavily on the run and Kale Konen rushes for an average of 105.8 yards per game.
The Cats really won’t change their game plan this time around, coach Schweikert noted. The teams are very similar and Columbia has worked very hard at limiting its mistakes since that loss earlier this season.
Like the first meeting, it should a great afternoon of absolutely smash mouth football.
This is the first trip to the state title game since 2017 for the Wildcats, when they dropped Hamilton 26-14 at home for the school’s first-ever state A championship.