That wasn’t how Mark Samson envisioned his very last game as head football coach.
Not that the Montana East-West Shrine football game is about a final score, you understand. But for the record, in the 75th edition of the classic game played Saturday night at Great Falls Memorial Stadium, the final count was West 40, East 21.
No, the Shrine Football Game is about something a little more pressing, as 81 of Montana and Alberta’s top prep football players came together in a benefit game for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane. , helping to raise the necessary funds so that children who cannot walk, run and play like a full child can eventually do so.
Now I will come down from my platform.
“We made mistakes when it really hurt us,” Samson said. “The kids played hard and you can’t take anything away from West; they’re a good football team.
“It would take a lot to beat this team on any given day.”
It was an ominous sign when East’s first play after the scrimmage ended in a safety, as the center snap went past Billings West’s QB East QB Isaiah Claunch and out of the end zone.
From there, West offensive MVP Tyson Rostad of Hamilton got to work, scoring the first of three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter on a two-yard run after a scrimmage to carry the score at 9-0.
Claunch, who heads to Carroll College to play for the Saints this fall, kept the East side close by hitting Drake commit and Gallatin receiver/D-back Tyler Nansel on a 70-yard pass play to bring East to a security. before the special teams came into action for West.
CM Russell kicker Trey Mans saw his shot from a field goal from 47 yards to take the lead blocked, and Connor Sullivan took over, as Kalispell Glacier DB recovered the loose ball and ran on 51 meters to pay dirt. Instead of a 10-9 advantage for the East, it was now 16-7 for the West.
After the ensuing kickoff from Glacier’s Patrick Rohrbach sailed over the end zone and hit the crossbar on the goal post, Claunch found teammate Golden Bear Taco Dowler with a bomb from 75 yards, again cutting West’s lead to less than two.
And that’s as close as it gets. Hellgate’s Ian Finch was on the receiving end of Rostad’s only TD pass, an 11-yard throw that made it 23-14 at recess.
Rohrback ended the first drive of the second half by scoring a 40-yard field goal. Minutes later, Rostad hit him from five yards out to give West a 33-14 lead.
The writing was on the wall for East, but they weren’t close to closing the book yet. With about 3 minutes to play in the fourth, Laurel defender Beau Dantic etched his name in the Shrine Game record books when he stepped in front of an offering from Helena High’s Kaden Huot after a “drill of point” from the East and brought it down to 102 meters. home, giving his team any glimmer of hope at 33-21.
“It was pretty crazy. I read the play, the ball went behind me and I thought it was gone,” said Dantic, who will be in Missoula with the Griz this fall. “A couple of our guys were standing there, and the ball popped up in the air.
“I was just in the right place at the right time.”
That glow would be drowned out two minutes later when Rostad made his way to the promised land 30 yards away. Game. Set. Match.
“It’s just an honor for the kids and how well they prepared last week and then they were about to go out and execute the game plan,” Hamilton mentor Bryce Carver said. , West’s head coach. “It worked pretty well for us.”
“I have to give it to our defense, they stopped them, played a hell of a game,” added Huot, also directed to UM. “Our special teams get that kick blocked — which gave us momentum.
“Shout to Rostad, he played his (tail) today. It was overall just a fun game tonight.
And though he’s yet to decide what his plans are after high school, catcher Luke Clinton of Fergus High in Lewistown exemplified what that game was all about.
“We all went out, played our best and just had fun,” Clinton said. “It’s not about who wins and loses in the end…it’s about the kids.
“That’s why we’re all here, having fun.”
WEST 40, EAST 21
West 9 14 10 7 – 40
East 0 14 0 7 – 21
WEST-Safety, ball broken across the baseline
WEST-Tyson Rostad 5 run (Patrick Rohrbach kick)
EAST-Tyler Nansel 70 pass from Isaiah Claunch (kick from Trey Mans)
WEST-Connor Sullivan 51 basket return blocked (Rohrbach shot)
EAST-Taco Dowler 75 Claunch pass (Le Mans kick)
WEST-Ian Finch 11 Rostad pass (Rohrback kick)
WEST-FG Rohrback 40
WEST-Rostad 5 race (Rohrback kick)
EAST-Beau Dantic 102 interception return (Le Mans kick)
WEST-Rostad 30 race (Rohrback kick)