HELENA — In a hard-fought defensive battle at Vigilante Stadium, on the night the 1978 Helena Capital High football team was recognized for the school's first of 11 state championships, the Bruins were edged by Billings West 14-10.
No. 2 ranked West improves to 6-1, while Capital slides to 3-4.
The Bears entered the game averaging 39 points a game, but after taking a 14-3 lead at halftime, CHS limited the Magic City crew to just two first downs after the intermission.
West crossed the 50-yard just twice in the second half, and actually wound up back in their own territory after a penalty.
The Bruins turned the ball over four times, compared to none by the visitors.
"It was a good game and we played hard, but we didn't play good enough for the win," CHS coach Kyle Mihelish said. "Our defense played lights out and were able to contain a very explosive team. I thought it an overall effort, the D-line did a pretty good job, and the defensive backs were solid, they only got behind us one time all night."
Mihelish lauded his opponent, stating: "(West) coach Rob Stanton does a good job down there. He complimented our hard work. Coach Stanton puts out a good product."
Stanton's father, the late Jim Stanton, played for Carroll College in the 1960s, and started his long coaching career at Helena Central High.
Capital took the early lead on a 24-yard field goal by Brian Buschini. The advantage held up until West scored twice in the second quarter.
Both tallies came on touchdown runs by Demarcus Carr for 27 and 4 yards, respectively. Zach Figg booted both extra points.
Midway through the second, a big catch by Capital's Cy Miller from quarterback Bridger Grovom put the ball inside West's 10, but the hosts came away empty when the attempted field goal sailed wide.
The Bruins closed the gap to 14-10 in the third after a 13-play, 64-yard drive culminated with a 10-yard strike from receiver Dawson Ziegler to Grovom. The score was set up by a clutch catch by Parker Johnston and a penalty on West.
"That's the play they used in the Super Bowl, it was put in by our offensive coordinator Bill Cockhill," Mihelish said. "Ziegler did a great job receiving the reverse, and Grovom ran the route well to be open."
On Capital's final possession late in the fourth, sophomore Quinn Belcher made back-to-back catches to get to midfield, but then West's Cade Wilcox made the game-clinching interception.
Capital out-gained the Bears 314 total yards to 206, spearheaded by Grovom's 246 yards passing.
Among the Bruins defensive standouts were Monte Pearson, Noah Braden, Zane McCormick, Alaric Greil, Boese , Josh Lea and sophomore Tyler Little.
"Yeah we played hard, but we're done with shoulda, coulda, woulda," Mihelish concluded. "We've gotta buckle down, be all business and get the job done."