LAUREL — Another strong performance from Ethan Renner and Laurel's defense led the Locomotives to a 32-6 Eastern A win over Lewistown on homecoming Friday night.
The Locomotives, No. 4 in the 406mtsports.com Class A rankings, improved to 5-1 overall (4-1 in conference) with Friday’s victory, its second straight over a winning Eastern A program. One week before beating the Eagles (4-2, 4-2), Laurel handled then-No. 1 Billings Central 33-0 in Billings.
“These past two weeks, I’ve seen our team just grow and become more physical and want to get a tackle, want to get that interception, want to get that extra yard,” said Laurel senior Keagan Campbell. “We’ve played good all season, but we’ve really been picking it up.”
Lewistown looked like it would strike first when junior quarterback Seth Norslien completed a 38-yard pass to senior Carson Weeden on third down early in the first quarter. Weeden was taken down by Campbell at Laurel’s 5-yard line, and the tackle proved important. The Locomotives stopped the Eagles on four straight goal-to-goal plays and took over with 6:23 left in the quarter.
“If I hadn’t made that tackle and he would’ve scored right there, who knows how the game would’ve went," Campbell said.
Laurel opened the scoring on a 21-yard run from senior Ethan Renner (No. 21) with 0:56 left in the first quarter.
Renner made it 14-0 with a 57-yard run on the first play of Laurel’s drive with 8:56 left in the first half. On the next play from scrimmage, Laurel junior Gabe Hernandez hit Norslien as he tried to pass, causing the ball to float in the air toward the left hash mark. Laurel junior James Ochs came down with the interception at Lewistown’s 28-yard line. One play later, Eli Aby connected with fellow junior Jack Waddell for a TD to put the Locomotives up 20-0.
Laurel’s defense has allowed 34 points this season, and nearly all of them have scored following mistakes on offense or special teams. In the Locomotives’ 21-16 loss to Miles City on Sept. 13, the Cowboys scored one TD on a punt block and scored the other two following Laurel punt team errors.
Lewistown’s lone score Friday, a 6-yard Norslien run, happened a handful of plays after the Eagles recovered a fumble. They recovered another fumble on the next drive, but Laurel’s defense forced a turnover on downs.
“We take pride in our defense,” said sophomore Emmet Renner, Ethan’s brother. “The six points kind of sucked to see up on the scoreboard, but we all showed out today.”
The Locomotives effectively put the game away with an 11-yard TD pass from Aby to Emmet early in the fourth quarter. Ethan was the first one to celebrate with him.
Ethan scored again on a 22-yard run for his second straight game of three rushing touchdowns (he also scored on a pass against Central).
“He’s put the work in,” Emmet said.