STEVENSVILLE — Friday's matchup pit the defending state champions of Columbia Falls and its vaunted run defense against Stevensville's Class A-best running attack.
And it was the Wildcat wall that won out.
C. Falls held Stevi scoreless through three quarters on the Yellowjackets' home field, and the visitors left Stevensville with a 55-14 nonconference win.
"What really hurt us tonight was their linebackers," Stevensville coach Troy Tack said after the game. "They play with great technique and pursue plays. That's what really hurt us. We just couldn't get the run game going, and we couldn't get our linemen out to the second level to block them."
One of those linebackers, Colten McPhee, explained his corps' philosophy.
"Coach says we're like a blitz on every play and we just get downhill," the senior said.
McPhee also looked like he was running downhill on offense, too. On Columbia Falls' second drive with the Wildcats already leading, 6-0, McPhee ripped off a 55-yard run that put C. Falls down to the Stevensville 5-yard line.
Two plays later, McPhee punched it in the end zone for six, and an Auguste Emond extra point gave Columbia Falls a 13-0 lead.
After a Stevi three-and-out, McPhee returned with an 18-yard reception from quarterback Drew Morgan that kicked off a five-play scoring drive. Morgan put the bookend on the series with a 2-yard touchdown run and the Cats wouldn't be caught from that point with a 20-0 lead.
Stevensville did cut into Columbia Falls' scoring streak in the fourth quarter, when running back Ben Tack found paydirt late in the game. The Yellowjackets followed their scoring drive immediately with another. Stevi's Quincy Larson recovered a pooch kick that C. Falls fumbled, and the Yellowjackets scored again two plays later.
Quarterback Garrison Bradt found his brother, Kellen Bradt, for the score and the Jackets cut the deficit to 34, 48-14.
"He did have a lot of good scrambles and got first downs for us," Tack said of his quarterback, Garrison Bradt. "He did a great job for us, but we were just pretty overwhelmed by a really, really good team."
C. Falls was indeed just too much. Logan Bechtel had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, which followed a Bryce Seymour pick-6.
Morgan also found Parker Green for a touchdown pass just before halftime to give the Cats 48 unanswered points and their third win. Stevensville fell to 2-2.