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A close shave for Butler, Devils

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By Travis Jenkins

On and off the field, it was a close shave for Tom Butler and the Great Falls football team Friday night.

The Red Devils defeated rival Lewisville 32-26 in overtime, giving the program it’s first two-game winning streak over its in-county rival in eight years.

Lewisville got the ball first in the extra frame, but found itself behind the eight ball in two respects. Starting quarterback Christian Yoder was lost due to injury in the second half and on the final play of regulation, the Lions were flagged with a dead ball foul. So instead of beginning their possession at the Great Falls 10, they started at the 25. They turned the ball over on downs. Great Falls opened their possession in the extra frame with a four-yard run, but then lost 11 yards on the next two plays as the Lions defense stuffed a running attempt and sacked quarterback Tommy Seagle. That brought up fourth down.

“We called a timeout, called the play and told him to throw it up there that it would be open. He trusted me,” Butler said.

D.J. Adams lined to Seagle right, ran inside and caught a bullet from Seagle at in the middle of the field at the three. He then withstood a vicious hit at the goal line, held on and scored the game-winner. It was his third touchdown of the night.

Great Falls is now 2-1 and both wins have come in overtime, with the first coming in the season opener against C.A. Johnson.

“Our kids feel confident in a close game. We never dropped out heads. The kids believed in what we’re doing. When we went to overtime, our whole defense walked out there and said ‘we got them now,’” Butler said

Leading up to overtime, the two teams traded big plays and the lead.

After getting excellent field position off a long kick return to open the game, Great Falls went 25 yards in nine plays. That included a clutch 12-yard pass from Tommy Seagle to Xavion Moore on fourth-and-long, a pass interference call on Lewisville on Kelton Talford in the end zone on third-and-long and three-yard scoring run by Adams, who took a direct snap on the play. The successful PAT made it a 7-0 lead for the Devils.

The score stayed unchanged until a wild second quarter. Lewisville needed only six plays to march 80 yards early in the stanza. Christian Yoder capped the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Devin McCrorey. A try for two was no good, leaving Great Falls with a 7-6 lead.

Lewisville held the Red Devils to a three-and-out, then struck quickly. Working from the team’s “thunder” single wing package, Demetric Hardin took a direct snap, made one man miss and was off to the races, going 58 yards untouched for a score. The PAT try was good and the Lions held a 13-7 lead.

Great Falls answered on its next possession. Seagle connected with Donnell Adams on a 19-yard catch-and-run, then spun out of what looked like a sure sack and hit Adams in the flat. He made a man miss, reversed his field and went 30 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was wide, leaving the score knotted at 13 all. Both teams scored in the final four minutes to send the game to a 20-20 tie at the break.

Seagle gave his team a 26-20 lead midway through the fourth on a drive during which he hit 4-of-5 passes for 56 yards. Lewisville answered as quickly as possible, with Hardin taking the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards for a touchdown. It marked his third score of the night and set up the overtime drama to come.

Lions coach Will Mitchell was complimentary of the effort and execution of the Red Devils. The penalty to end regulation and the loss of Yoder to injury certainly hurt his team, he said, but there were things his team could have done better as well.

“We had a lousy practice this week for the first time. That stuff matters. Little things matter,” he said.

Prior to the game, Butler promised his team he would allow them to shave his head if they beat the Lions. He normally shaves his head every October as a tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago from cancer.

“I’m just doing it a little early this year,” he said.

Great Falls will face Andrew Jackson (3-0) at home Friday. Lewisville (2-1) will play host to the Carolina Bearcats.