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Red Devils snag win at West Yellowstone

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | September 21, 2022 12:00 AM

When a couple of six-man Montana High School football teams get together with similar records and an early conference lead, you can probably count on a track meet to break out.

That was the case Saturday when 2-1 Noxon rolled into 3-0 West Yellowstone for an early season showdown. The Red Devils left town with a 68-39 win that left both teams at 3-1 in the first half of the 2022 season.

Noxon scored first in what turned out to be a slug fest, when sophomore quarterback Brian Risch threw an arching pass to a wide open junior wideout Shamus Wheeldon for what turned out to be a 47-yard catch and run touchdown play.

The point after touchdown try was no good, leaving the visiting Red Devils with a 6-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Noxon booted a wobbling squib kick that they recovered at midfield. Several Johnny Knerr runs later Noxon scored on a short three-yard touchdown flip from Wheeldon to Gage Hendrick for their second TD of the game. This time the PAT try was good, giving the Red Devils a 13-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.

Then, the Noxon defense forced a rarity in football at any level, roughing the Bruins up two possessions in a row, both of which ended in two-point safeties. The safety scores were aided by bad snaps from the West Yellowstone snapper as well as some bruising yardage gains on the ground by Knerr, a 6-3, 230-pound running back/linebacker. As time ran out in the first quarter, Noxon held a 17-0 lead.

In the opening minutes of quarter number two, Risch added to the Noxon lead when he broke free on a 19-yard scramble for six. The two-point PAT kick was good, giving the Devils a 25-0 lead.

Noxon held again, then capped a short drive with a 2 yard TD run by Ricky Williams that boosted the visitor’s lead to 31-0.

West Yellowstone finally got on the scoreboard on its next possession via a nine-yard TD pass. A successful PAT left the score at 31-7 in favor of the Red Devils.

The Wolverines held Noxon and forced them to punt on the next set of downs. Several plays later the host team scored again, this time via a 12-yard touchdown pass. The extra point pass was good and West Yellowstone trailed by a 31-14 score.

Noxon quickly answered that score on its next possession with time running out in the first half of play. Risch added to his touchdown total when he swept outside and strolled 47 yards for a score, putting the score at 37-14 when the half ended.

Noxon got the kickoff to open the second half and struck quickly when Risch found Wheeldon for a 47-yard TD pass. This time the PAT kick was good for two points, and Noxon held a 45-14 lead.

The Wolverines matched that TD with a 14-yard scoring pass a few plays later, bringing the score to 45-20 midway through the third quarter.

Noxon’s defense got the ball back on downs a short time later then watched as Williams dove into the end zone from two yards out, giving the Red Devils a seemingly insurmountable 53-20 lead that held up through the rest of the third quarter.

That set the stage for a wide open fourth quarter. Williams scored on a four-yard run one possession later, boosting their lead to 60-20.

West Yellowstone answered that score on the ensuing Noxon kickoff when their return man scampered 65-yards with a catch and run touchdown play, cutting the Red Devils lead to 66-26.

Each team would score again before the game clock struck zero and in the end the Red Devils left town with the 68-39 win.

Next up for Noxon is a home game this Friday at 7 pm against White Sulphur Springs.

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