With the game on the line, the Bulldogs stepped up.
Down 27-21 to Butte Central with a minute to go, Whitefish faced a fourth-and-5 on the opposing 24-yard line. Quarterback Mark Anderson took the snap, looked left and floated a fade to receiver Josh Dudley, who made a sliding catch at the 3-yard line. The next play, Anderson took a quarterback keeper up the middle for an easy touchdown.
Carver Gilman, 4 for 4 on points-after on the night, knocked in the go-ahead score to put the Dogs up one for their first win of the season.
Looking back to the crucial fourth down, Anderson said it was all about letting Dudley make a play.
“I’ve got to give him a chance,” he said. “I can’t throw it out of bounds, that’s ball game pretty much. If it gets picked, it’s fourth down [anyway]. I just had to give him a chance.”
Butte opened the scoring with a rushing touchdown by quarterback Cade Holter on their opening drive of the game.
Whitefish responded with an Anderson quarterback sneak from one yard out to even things at 7-7.
Butte got the ball on a strange turnover late in the first quarter, after Whitefish set up their offense with about 20 seconds to go before pulling the team to huddle up on the sideline and let the clock run out. A scuffle occurred, and the referees claimed that because the Bulldogs’ center had set the ball to snap before getting up and moving, it was a fumble and a live ball.
A Butte touchdown followed shortly after, but the point after attempt was blocked.
Later in the half Holter hit receiver Luke Jensen on a 29-yard touchdown pass. After a successful two-point conversion, the Dogs had themselves in a 21-7 hole.
Whitefish responded on the first play of the ensuing possession, however, with Anderson hitting Ian Calaway for a 41-yard touchdown.
Early in the third quarter, Whitefish evened things up with a short touchdown run by Jack Schwaiger.
Holter scored on a short quarterback keeper with 10 minutes to go in the fourth to put his team up 27-21. The point after attempt hit the upright, and would later be a major mishap for Butte.
Head coach Chad Ross said there was a different energy against Butte Central compared to the week before.
“I really challenged them, because week one I thought we played really well against Hamilton. Week two I thought we looked like a JV team, assignment-wise we just broke down, and maybe playing in front of our crowd we were really excited,” Ross said. “But this week we just challenged the kids.”
Ross said he was particularly impressed with the game-winning drive his offense put together in the final minutes of the game.
“We started that drive on our own 30, so we went 70 yards in three minutes,” he said. “I was impressed with Mark [Anderson] just taking a breath.”
Whitefish (1-2) plays at Corvallis (3-0) this Friday.
Ross said his team will get their first look at the Blue Devils’ triple option offense, led by the strong play of quarterback Liang Liedle.
“They’re a triple option team, it’s the first team we’ve seen that all year. There’s not too many of that in the state,” Ross said. “Basically it comes down to doing your job and not trying to do somebody else’s job.”
“They’ve got a good team, it’s one of the best Corvallis teams I’ve seen.”
Butte Central 7 14 0 6 — 27
Whitefish 7 7 7 7 — 28
BC — Cade Holter 4 run (kick good)
W — Mark Anderson 1 run (Carver Gilman kick)
BC —Holter 2 run (kick blocked)
BC — Luke Jensen 29 pass from Holter (Holter run)
W — Ian Calaway 41 pass from Anderson (Gilman kick)
W — Jack Schwaiger 9 run (Gilman kick)
BC — Holter 3 run (kick failed)
W — Anderson 3 run (Gilman kick)