BILLINGS — It was a disastrous start for Billings West, but one thing Golden Bears coach Rob Stanton knows is to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers at all costs.
DeMarcus Carr rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown, and Josh Erbacher threw three scoring passes in Billings West’s 34-21 come-from-behind victory over Class AA foe Great Falls CMR during Senior Night on Thursday in Class AA football at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
Carr, a junior, keeps climbing West’s individual rushing chart, but CMR had him bottled up throughout the first quarter. Carr had negative-11 rushing yards through the first 12 minutes, and his fumble with the Bears backed up against their own goal line resulted in a Rustlers touchdown as David Delcomte pounced on the ball in the end zone.
That was on the heels of CMR marching for a score on its opening possession, capped by a 1-yard run by quarterback Bryce Nelson.
But Carr soon settled in. He busted a 42-yard run that set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Erbacher to Hunter Morse to give West its first points. Carr then scored on a 2-yard run to give the Bears a second-quarter lead they didn’t surrender.
“You always go back to your best athletes,” Stanton said. “When (Carr) runs with that sense of urgency, when he runs with that chip on his shoulder he’s one of the better backs in the state, if not the best. When he gets after it like that he’s tough to stop.”
“I just think Senior Night, everyone’s kind of worked up,” Carr said. “It just took us some time to settle in.”
Unofficially, Carr now has 1,351 yards this season, and 2,245 for his career, putting him 583 yards shy of the school record set by Clay Compton from 2009-11.
Once West got untracked offensively, the yards and points started to pile up.
Jesse Owens made a bobbling touchdown catch on a 16-yard pass from Erbacher on West’s opening drive of the third quarter. Erbacher also hit Chay Marsh with a 29-yard TD throw in the third.
Defensively the Bears forced five turnovers, including two interceptions from Owens. Owens returned one of those 36 yards for a touchdown, racing left toward the sideline before cutting back against the grain to elude several CMR defenders inside the 20.
“Jesse is just an incredible athlete,” Carr said. “You never know what to expect when he gets the ball in his hands.”
With the victory, West improved to 9-1. CMR dropped to 2-7.
The Bears face two-time reigning Class AA champion Billings Senior next week, a team they haven’t beaten in four years.
“We’re little brother right now,” Stanton said of his team’s status against its crosstown rival. “We have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and we have a lot of respect for their team, but we’ve also been looking forward to it.
“We’ll look at the film and on Monday we’ll get back after it in practice.”