BILLINGS — The Billings Central football team still has a chance to win back-to-back state titles.
Junior Marcus Wittman threw for two touchdown passes and grabbed two interceptions on defense to lead Central to a 45-13 win over Eastern A foe Glendive on Friday night at Herb Klindt Field. The Rams (7-2) advanced to the second round of the Class A state playoffs.
“The legacy the seniors left last year, just trying to respect it and defend our championship,” Wittman said.
Penalties hampered Glendive all game and helped Central score on its 5-minute, 27-second opening drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run from Michael Hayden.
Wittman’s first interception set up a Camden Capser 25-yard field goal early in the second quarter, and he completed a 9-yard TD pass to fellow junior Derek Damjanovich midway through the second quarter to make it 17-0.
A bad snap from Glendive’s center nearly resulted in a safety. Sophomore Parker Buckley threw an interception to Thomas Hubbard a few plays later, leading to a 3-yard rushing TD from Hayden with 2:54 left in the first half.
About 20 seconds later, Central junior JaQuawhann Booth recovered a fumble, and Damjanovich ran 30 yards to put the Rams up 31-0.
The Red Devils found the end zone with 9.2 seconds left in the first half on a 27-yard pass from Buckley to junior Brodie Eckert. They approached Central territory to open the second half, but Wittman picked off Buckley again, and Damjanovich made the score 38-7 on a 3-yard run.
It was the first two-interception game of Wittman’s career.
“I want to prove I can play defense, too,” Wittman said with a smile. “For the seniors, especially, you want to give everything you have for them. I was happy I could do that.”
Central triggered a running clock with about 3:00 left in the third quarter, when Wittman completed an 11-yard TD pass to senior Charlie Parkan.
Glendive senior Nelson Crisafulli scored on a 1-yard run with 7.1 seconds left in the game.
“We expected to win,” said Glendive coach Ryan Buckley. “We’re trying to build momentum for next season and get some confidence with our kids. Getting those scores will help.”
The Red Devils, who lost at Central 43-0 on Sept. 20, finished the season with a 3-6 record.
The Rams went 12-0 last fall and capped their season with a 28-21 win over Hamilton in the State A title game. They will meet the Broncs, who are 8-1 and No. 3 in the 406mtsports.com rankings, next Saturday in Hamilton for a quarterfinal matchup.
“They’re just another team,” Wittman said. “Obviously, anyone can win — it’s high school playoffs — so we’re just coming in with the mentality that if we play hard, we can come out on top.”