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Huskies beat Bulldogs in state championship

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Story and Photos by Porter Counts / Valley Journal

ST. IGNATIUS — The Mission Bulldogs hosted the Belt Huskies in the Montana Eight-Man football state championship on Saturday, Nov. 19, losing 52-24. Both teams came into the championship game undefeated. This was Mission’s first football championship game since 1948 and Belt’s first since 1994, with both teams looking to write themselves into the history books.

On a frigid afternoon, both teams struggled getting their respective offenses going with the hard, slick field and cold air affecting both the pass and run games. The Bulldogs scored the first and only points of the first quarter through their tough defensive work. Kenny Ness blocked a Belt punt and it was recovered by Canyon Sargent who ran it back for a touchdown. 

In the second quarter, both teams scored two touchdowns with the Huskies converting both two point conversions and the Bulldogs missing out on both of theirs. Mission quarterback Kellen McClure through one of his two touchdown passes to Ness after the Huskies’ Garret Metrione had rushed for a one yard touchdown, making the score 12-8. After a 35-yard rushing touchdown from Belts’ Jeremy Nebel, the Bulldogs responded on the defensive end through Chance Bockmans pick-six, ending the first half up 18-14. 

After the break, the Huskies’ Metrione scored both the third quarters touchdowns to put Belt up 30-18. The Bulldogs scored a beautiful 40-yard pass from McClure to Ness to give Mission High a bit of hope for a big comeback, but the Huskies were not going to be denied their first title in almost 30 years. Metrione rushed for his fourth touchdown of the day and Ethan Triplett ran for two of his own to finish the game 52-24.

“We knew we were in a tough fight, and they came to play,” said Belt head coach Matt Triplett. “Hats off to those guys for playing hard. We threw a couple of picks and they were dropping in that zone really hard, so we thought we could just pound the ball a little bit and maybe break one, and the guys just got it done.”

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