EAST HELENA — Browning scored 40-straight points in the middle portions of Friday night’s game on its way to a 40-22 win over East Helena.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and finally kinda getting the monkey off our back,” Indians head coach Jerry Racine said. “We let one slip away from us last week. It’s just a lot of the hard work that we had put in, in the off-season and so far this season paying off.”
In a battle of winless teams — and with East Helena playing its third-ever varsity game — it was the Vigilantes that jumped on the scoreboard first. Searching for their first varsity points after being shutout in their initial two games, the Vigilantes found pay dirt in the second quarter.
Quarterback Braden Howell rolled out the pocket, threw on the run and found Kaeben Bushnell 30-plus yards downfield for six.
“That’s one of our plays that we run quite a bit,” East Helena head coach Tyler Murray said. “Move the pocket and get Braden outside the pocket and he threw a great ball to Kaeben. Great catch, too.”
A packed house of Vigilante fans erupted in response to the score, while Bushnell’s teammates greeted him in the back of the end zone following the score.
“It just felt great. Everyone going wild for you, first varsity touchdown,” Bushnell said. “Wish we could’ve had more, but it doesn’t go like that all the time.”
That touchdown broke the seal after a scoreless first quarter by both teams. After three fruitless drives to start the game, Browning began finding holes in East Helena’s defense.
Tommy Running Rabbit scored three touchdowns on the ground, including a 67-yarder that pushed Browning’s advantage to 20-points.
“It’s kinda something that we’re hoping to see a lot of out of Tommy,” Racine said. “We have high expectations for him, he’s only a sophomore so right now he’s still kinda figuring out the game. That’s kinda our expectations for Tommy.”
Brendyn Whiteman found the end zone from five yards out, a score that ended up being the go-ahead tally. Joe Bull Shoe added a receiving touchdown and quarterback Jesse Carlson scored on a keeper that capped the scoring for Browning and propelled the Indians to their first win of the season.
“We see ourselves playing our best football going forward,” Racine said. “We’re just learning week-by-week and we’re growing leaps and bounds and everything is starting to come together for us.”
For East Helena, not only did the team tally its first-ever varsity touchdown, but the Vigilantes picked up two additional scores to go along with a defensive safety. Sophomore Greg Knight punched the ball in from two yards out with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and Justus Racine found the end zone just 90 seconds later with a long touchdown run.
“I think we’ve come a long way from the first game to this game,” Bushnell said. “I think we’re only going to get better, it just takes time and hard work...Just little things that equal to everything bigger.”
Murray said he liked to see the no quit attitude in his team and believes his team is continuing to progress in the early-going of its varsity history.
“They have very good attitudes all the time,” Murray said. “Coming to practice and working hard and understanding the process that we’re in. They understand that the position we’re in is very tough. They’re not really afraid of it and they’re working hard. I give them credit for that.”
Still in search of their first varsity win, the Vigilantes will be back in action on Friday, at home, against Whitefish. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.