With the team’s starting running backs sidelined with injuries, Eric Kinnaman and his staff were forced to make to significant changes this week.
Belgrade’s successful run oriented offense was abandoned for a spread offense, and with only few days to prepare, it sputtered Friday night at Jason Green Memorial Field. The Panthers never got things clicking in 51-0 Eastern AA loss to Great Falls.
“We went from a base pro-style offense to a spread offense just because of personnel. We’re really down on personnel right now,” said Kinnaman. “We were short at the running back position, so we decided to put in a little bit of spread offense and struggled tonight.”
Brylee Cage and John Mears, who also start at linebacker, did not play. With the duo on the bench Belgrade finished with minus 9 yards of offense in the first half while allowing a pair of sacks and a safety.
Meanwhile, the Bison (1-4, 1-2) scored on 5 of 6 first half possessions led by Andrew Almos. The senior quarterback threw three of his five touchdown passes in the first half and ran for another as Great Falls built a 37-0 lead.
“He found open receivers very well. I definitely have to say kudos to him for not being greedy. He took what we gave him,” said Kinnaman. “He threw underneath our linebackers. When he had the option to throw it over the top he threw it over the top, but for the most part he was throwing underneath us all game long and that was tough for us.”
Almos had touchdown passes of 24, 15, and 33 yards prior to halftime and ran for a 9-yard score. Then he added touchdown passes of 20 and 3 yards in the third quarter.
Levi Torgerson caught the first and final touchdown passes of the night by Almos. The junior also threw a touchdown pass after picking up a fumble behind the line of scrimmage late in the first half and connecting with a wide open Peyton Gonser for a 29-yard score.
While the Panthers struggled to move the ball, they did threaten to score after Tate Bowler hauled in a 36-yard pass on fourth down to set up the offense at the Bison’s 1-yard line late in the third quarter.
However, after being stopped short of the goalline twice on quarterback sneaks, Dyson Cheney threw an incompletion on third down. On fourth down the senior connected with Brady Mounts, but the junior was knocked out of bounds just shy of the pylon to keep Belgrade out of the endzone.
“We tried a couple runs and a couple passes and both were unsuccessful. Having Dyson under center right now we struggle with that anyways because of his thumb with the cast on his left hand,” said Kinnaman. “So we struggled getting the snap cleanly and if you don’t get that snap cleanly a quarterback sneak doesn’t work very well.”
Belgrade (0-5, 0-3) returns to action next Friday with another conference game at Bozeman.
Great Falls 51, Belgrade 0
Great Falls 7 30 14 0 - 51
Belgrade 0 0 0 0 - 0
GF - Levi Torgerson 24 pass from Andrew Almos (Judah McAdam kick), 2:05
GF - Almos 9 run (McAdam kick), 11:55
GF - Gage Longin 15 pass from Almos (McAdam kick), 6:46
GF - Safety, Dyson Cheney tackled in end zone (McAdam kick), 6:40
GF - Teage Fought 33 pass from Almos (McAdam kick), 5:17
GF - Peyton Gonser 29 pass from Torgerson (McAdam kick), :30
GF - Longin 20 pass from Almos (McAdam kick), 7:30
GF - Torgerson 3 pass from Almos (Weston Piner kick), 3:01