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Wolverines outlast Devils in high-scoring slugfest

 

October 18, 2018

John Hamilton

SAVAGE HEAT FRESHMAN Jack McAllister pitches the ball to a teammate in early season action at Hot Springs.

When was the last time a team scored 72 points in a football game and lost?

In western Montana, the last (and possibly first?) time it ever happened was in Noxon Friday night when the West Yellowstone Wolverines gave up 72 points to the Red Devils but still won by scoring 82 themselves.

Believed to be one of the highest scoring games in Montana prep history – and at the very least certainly the highest scoring grid contest in Red Devil history – the 82-72 victory left West Yellowstone temporarily in sole possession of first place in Western C 6-Man standings with one regular season game remaining.

Although the loss hurt the Devils' chances for better playoff position, coach Bart Haflich and his boys can still earn a second straight State C playoff bid. The Devils play Valley Christian in Alberton Friday with the winner advancing to the playoffs as the Western C's No. 4 seed.

For comparison sake, Valley lost to Hot Springs 67-0 in Alberton last week and the Devils fell to Hot Springs 64-36 in Noxon last month. Haflich is taking nothing for granted heading into the winner-take-all game with the Eagles.

"They are a good team or they would not be in this position," he said of Valley Christian. "Obviously, there is a lot riding on this game for both teams. We feel confident heading into it but definitely not overconfident, we will have to play well to win."

Not that the Devils have been playing that poorly. They played well against West Yellowstone last week, just not quite well enough.

"It was an exciting game with a lot of big plays and offense by both sides," Haflich said. "We just couldn't seem to get the stops on defense when we needed them."

The electronic scoreboard at Jenny Lampshire Memorial Field received an unprecedented workout in the game as the Devils and Wolverines exchanged scores all Noxon night long.

West scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and Noxon three as the first 10 minutes ended with the Wolverines ahead 28-24. By halftime the score was already 52-50 Wolverines as the Devils scored four more TDs and West three.

After Devil star Levi Brubaker, who scored six touchdowns himself on the night, threw a five-yard scoring pass to Jeriko Smith, and then kicked the two-point conversion, the game was tied at 58-58 before West finally managed to pull away late in the third quarter and into the fourth.

Two 20-yard touchdown passes from Mac Hauck to Sammy Coffin, followed by two two-point kicks by Hauck, made the score 74-58 West Yellowstone, and the Wolverines managed to hold on for the win from there.

The loss overshadowed another brilliant performance by Brubaker, who scored touchdowns on runs of 9, 38, 2, 5, 20 and 50 yards while rushing for an astounding total of 458 yards, and finding time to complete the touchdown pass to Smith.

Cade VanVleet also had a great game for Noxon, rushing for another 109 yards and scoring touchdowns on runs of 9, 2 and 10 yards.

Cade's older brother Edison VanVleet led the Noxon defense with nine tackles.

Hauck wound up throwing six TD passes for West with Coffin catching four of those, and Miguel Salinas rushed for five scores for the Wolverines.

Haflich knows what Noxon needs to do to be successful in Alberton and, if it is to be, in the playoffs after that.

"We have to sturdy up our defense some," he said. "We can do better on that side, we need to show up and play some defense."

The Red Devils are obviously not too far away from being one of the elite teams in the Western C. "It's not like anyone has been blowing us out," he said. "We probably should have defeated White Sulphur Springs, we played fairly well against Hot Springs and we think we could have won against West."

It looks like those three teams Haflich cited will end up in a three-way tie for the Western C title, all with 6-1 conference marks. If that comes to pass, Hot Springs will be declared the regular season champs based on points scored versus each other.

 

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