Facing a stiff defensive front in its season opener, Belgrade had a tough time moving the ball Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
The Panthers were limited to 154 yards of total offense and committed a turnover in a 27-0 Eastern AA defeat to Great Falls CMR.
“Offense struggled tonight. They had some big D-tackles and they had a really good D-line. Their D-line really controlled the game and a good D-line is going to be able to do that,” Belgrade coach Eric Kinnaman said. “Being able to run the ball or even pass the ball, they were on us in a split second. It was tough.”
While the Panthers struggled to move the ball, the contest was tight throughout. CMR led just 7-0 after the first quarter thanks to a AJ LaFurge 10-yard TD run at the 4:50 mark, and the score was 20-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Our defense played well. We weren’t able to get a turnover, but I thought our defense played well,” said Kinnaman. “There were a few times that CMR kind of had their way with us, but for the most part our defense played really well and kept us in the game.”
CMR quarterback Raef Newbrough scored on a 10-yard run late in the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-0, then threw a 2-yard TD pass to Wyatt Hagen with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
Newbrough capped the scoring with a 6-yard run with 17 seconds remaining in the contest. He finished the game with 41 yards rushing in addition to completing 14 of 26 passes for 137 yards.
The Panthers did manage to get inside CMR’s 30 a couple of times, but were unable to produce points.
“We had a couple penalties that drove us back. We just couldn’t get in” said Kinnaman. “There wasn’t a whole lot of immediate opportunities, meaning inside the 10. There wasn’t a lot for us tonight.”
Austin Spangler made his first-ever start at quarter and the junior completed 11 of 18 attempts for 123 yards. Wyatt Lambeth caught four of those passes for 44 yards.
“Spangler actually had a pretty good night for the amount of pressure that he was under,” said Kinnaman. “I thought Gage (Ruddick) ran the ball well for the amount of pressure he was under as well. It was tough tonight for as good as their D-line was, they dominated the game.”
Belgrade will make its home debut this Friday against Gallatin High. The first-year program lost its season opener at home to Great Falls, 48-14.
Great Falls CMR 27, Belgrade 0
Belgrade 0 0 0 0 - 0
Great Falls 7 13 0 7 - 27
CMR - AJ LaFurge 10 run (Tristan Shanks kick
CMR - Raef Newbrough 10 run (Shanks kick)
CMR - Wyatt Hagen 2 pass from Newbrough (kick failed)
CMR - Newbrough 6 run (Shanks kick)