BILLINGS — For as wild as Thursday night’s game began — the first quarter had more than its share of wacky plays — the Bozeman Hawks eventually settled into what became a routine win.
The Hawks scored six unanswered touchdowns and defeated Billings Skyview 49-7 in an Eastern AA football game at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
Jake CasaGranda threw three touchdown passes, two to Jase Applebee, who also scored on a touchdown run as the Hawks won their third straight game to improve to 3-2 overall and 3-0 in the league.
Since opening the season with losses to Helena Capital and top-ranked Missoula Sentinel, the Hawks have reeled off wins over Belgrade, Great Falls and now the Falcons.
“It’s nice to have momentum,” Bozeman coach Levi Wesche said. “It’s good to have confidence going into (next week’s) big Senior game, too.”
CasaGranda’s first pass, which came on just the second play from scrimmage to start the game, bounced off the foot of a Bozeman receiver and into the hands of Skyview’s Hunter Sherner. The Falcons set up shop at the Bozeman 12, but wound up losing five yards in the series and had to settle for a field goal attempt.
Bridger Felchle’s kick was blocked, and in the scramble, Bozeman’s Cordell Holzer scooped up the ball while essentially sitting on a teammate and raced 60 yards for the game’s first score.
Payton Sanders took the ensuing kick to the Bozeman 1-yard line, and one play later the Falcons tied the score on a plunge by quarterback Dylan Goodell.
Applebee then took the next kickoff in for another touchdown but it was called back due to a holding penalty. To top things off, on Skyview’s next series, Goodell caught his own pass when the ball was tipped into the air by a Bozeman defender.
“That was probably the craziest start to a football game in however long I’ve been coaching,” Wesche said. “I thought our kids answered well in the second quarter, but we were just really slow to get off the bus.”
When Applebee raced 35 yards for a 14-7 Bozeman lead late in the first quarter, the Hawks seemed to settle down. CasaGranda found Bryson Zanto from 3 yards out for a 20-7 lead, and a 15-yard run by Brady CasaGranda and a two-point conversion built Bozeman’s advantage to 28-7 by halftime.
Jake CasaGranda continued Bozeman’s run with touchdown passes of 80 yards and 24 yards to Luke Smith and Applebee, and Malloy Mayer completed the scoring with a 4-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Skyview had a first-half ending drive stop at the Bozeman 2, and the Falcons opened the second half with another drive that stalled at the Hawks’ 11.
But their losing streak was extended to four games, a streak in which the Falcons (1-4, 0-3) have given up at least 42 points each time.
“We say it all the time, there are great coaches in this conference and you’re going to be in a battle every night,” Skyview coach Nathan Wahl said. “Everybody’s getting better every day, so when you come out here, you have to play perfect. We didn’t do that tonight. But these kids never stop battling.”
Skyview takes on No. 2 Billings West next Friday, while Bozeman plays host to Senior next Thursday.