Plains put more emphasis on the fundamentals of football last week in practice, and the renewed focus really showed in the Horsemen’s Homecoming game Friday night against Mission High School from St. Ignatius.
The Horsemen led the Bulldogs 26-18 at halftime and scored the first touchdown of the third quarter, but Mission racked up four fourth-period touchdowns — scoring to take the lead with just a minute remaining en route to a 44-40 victory.
Plains will be poised to get back on the winning track when the Horsemen play an afternoon game Saturday at Victor. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Victor and Plains each have a 1-4 Class B 8-man mark in the Western Division. Victor lost to Seeley-Swan 26-6 last Friday, after falling to Charlo 44-12 the week before. Mission hosts Lake County rival Arlee on Friday at 7 p.m.
PLAINS HAD a 40-38 lead and the football in the final minutes, but had to punt. A bad snap resulted in Mission getting the ball with two minutes to go. The Bulldogs scored on a pass from Isaac Dumontier to Wacey McClure to take a 44-40 lead with :57 remaining.
“We didn’t run the right (pass) routes on the next three plays,” Plains head coach Eddie Fultz said, and the third pass resulted in an interception. Mission then ran out the clock.
Plains took on Mission without key senior Jacob Peterson. He injured a knee early in the Horsemen’s third game of the season, against Darby. It was determined last Wednesday that had a torn ACL and would be out the rest of the season.
“We played pretty good at certain positions,” Fultz said. “Our best player was on the sideline and we weren’t prepared for that. We had inexperience at the linebacker spot and they (Mission) pretty much attacked that spot all night. We tried to make adjustments but we had no answer.
“I do think it’s the best we’ve blocked this year,” he added.
THE HORSEMEN did came out strong on both sides of the football against Mission, blocking and tackling with renewed enthusiasm. However, nerves got the best of both teams as they exchanged turnovers in the opening quarter. Two of the three giveaways were by the Horsemen.
After the second Plains turnover, an interception, Mission junior receiver Jedi Christy made a spectacular catch in the end zone on a pinpoint pass from Dumontier to complete a 20-yard scoring play.
The Horsemen responded, scoring on a 9-yard TD run by senior Malachi Paulsen and his two-point conversion run for an 8-6 Plains lead.
Mission reclaimed a 12-8 lead on a 25-yard scoring pass from Dumontier to McClure.
Plains junior quarterback Treydon Brouillette ran five yards for a touchdown and a 14-12 Horsemen lead. The margin grew to 20-12 on a 4-yard scoring pass from Brouillette to Matt McCracken.
THE BULLDOGS got within two points on a 20-yard TD pass from Dumontier to McClure with 3:30 remaining in the first half. However, Plains responded with a 20-yard TD run by Paulsen just two minutes later.
Plains took momentum into the locker room when the Horsemen defense held Mission inside the Plains 1-yard-line on the last play of the first half.
The Horsemen scored on a touchdown aerial from Brouillette to Orion Pry-Hyde and a Paulsen conversion run for a 34-18 lead — those the only points of the third quarter.
Dumontier passed to McClure for a Mission touchdown, and Plains responded with a Brouillette-to-McCracken TD pass — giving the Horsemen a 40-25 lead.
However, Mission was unstoppable the rest of the fourth quarter — scoring on a Dumontier run, and pair of TD passes from Dumontier to favorite target McClure.
“I pride us on our defense,” Fultz said, “but we don’t have the horses we had last year.”
FULTZ LAMENTED the loss of Peterson.
“He did put in a lot of work in the offseason,” the coach said. “He made a big body change.” Peterson bulked up to 200 pounds on his 6-foot frame.
The loss to Mission eliminated Plains from state playoff contention, but the Horsemen will “play for pride” against Victor, Clark Fork and Troy to finish the season.
“We hope to send out our seniors on a high note, and we can rotate some younger players in,” Fultz said.
For Friday’s game at Victor, Paulsen will be moved back to linebacker, and the Horsemen will rotate defensive ends.