HELENA -- When the clock stuck zero in the crosstown football game a week ago, Helena High's Hayden Ferguson was distraught — all the Bengals were.
But Friday evening, Ferguson, who started at quarterback for Helena in place of the injured Kaden Huot, got some redemption, tossing two touchdown passes in a 34-7 win over Great Falls CMR.
"It always feel good to win in the playoffs," Ferguson said. "You always want to beat Capital, but this is the playoffs. This is when it really counts."
"He just grinded," Helena High coach Scott Evans said of Ferguson. "You aren't going to look at the stats and talk about how well he threw the ball or anything like that, but he got our team in a good position to win the football game."
When it was all said and done, Ferguson was 8 of 14 for 128 yards with two passing TDs.
While Ferguson made some big plays as the Bengals signal-caller, the first touchdown came via Logan Brown, who scored from 10 yards out following an interception from Connor Rigsby.
That gave Helena a 7-0 lead and just a few minutes later, the Bengals stuck again as Ferguson connected with Raef Miller on a 50-yard touchdown.
The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the first half, until the final two minutes, when there were some fireworks.
First, Ferguson capped the third scoring drive of the first half, when he found Ayden Fasbender for a 27-yard touchdown. Fasbender, who filled in for the injured Kyler Tesch, caught three passes for 49 yards.
"That's what the playoffs are all about, kids stepping up," Evans said. "And you can't say enough about Ayden. He's a program kid and he stepped into that No. 1 role with Tesch out and he did a great job."
The Rustlers got on the board in the final minute of the first half with a touchdown pass and suddenly, it was 20-7 at intermission, putting CMR within striking distance.
But it wouldn't remain a two-score game for long. On the opening kickoff of the second half, Brown found the end zone again, returning it 80 yards to hit paydirt, giving Helena a 27-7 lead.
"I have been waiting for that all year," Evans said. "He has broke some but not like that. It was a little slippery out there and he was able to make a cut and go. It was a great play by him."
It wasn't the last great run Helena High fans would see.
Leading 27-7, Ferguson went for the dagger late in the third quarter, scampering 82 yards from his own goal line. He didn't score, however, he set up another a 3-yard TD run by Brown.
"Well, you always think you are going to make it," Ferguson said of his long run. "Now, I am just going to get made fun of for being too slow for the rest of the week."
Even though Ferguson didn't finish off the run, he still ran nine times for 121 yards. Brown also added 68 yards on 21 attempts and finished with three total touchdowns.
Defensively, Ben Swanson also had a big game for the Bengals, corralling two interceptions, including one in the second half that he caught sitting down.
"Defensively, I couldn't be happier," Evans said. "I thought the kids did a great job of flying around and making big plays. Ben Swanson is another kid that stepped up and caught two interceptions, one while he was sitting down. That's the stuff you need in the playoffs."
Helena High (6-4) will advance to the Class AA quarterfinals next week. The Bengals will likely be on the road, and the eight teams that advance will be re-seeded after the first round.