Story by 406 Sports
BILLINGS — Lewistown running back Jett Boyce is a yes sir, no sir kind of guy, but he wasn’t nearly that polite with the game on the line Friday night.
Boyce provided the muscle in the Eagles’ first victory over Billings Central in 35 years, carrying the ball on a handful of long and bruising runs that helped set up a touchdown in the final seconds to secure a 21-14 triumph over the No. 3-ranked Rams at Herb Klindt Field.
If Lewistown was feeling disrespected about being unranked in Class A despite having only one loss, it didn’t come off that way afterward. The Eagles (6-1) let their performance speak for itself, and it was an efficient display in the final minute.
“It was all or nothing. We hadn’t beaten these guys in three decades,” said Boyce, who rushed 21 times for 113 yards, 49 of which came on Lewistown’s final drive. “We put it all out there and did what we needed to do to win the game.”
Central (5-2) scored to tie it with 3:55 left during a wild sequence. Facing fourth-and-19 on the Eagles’ 20, Rams quarterback Adam Balkenbush play-faked, rolled right, then threw back to his left to a wide-open Kade Boyd, who caught the ball, ran toward the pylon and fought his way over the goal line.
Lewistown got the ball back and meticulously fed it to Boyce, who powered ahead for seven yards, then for 18, then later for 13 and then for 10. Eventually the ball was on Central’s 2, from where Gage Norslien took a wildcat snap and dove over the goal line with just four seconds left to break the deadlock.
The Eagles perhaps could have lined up for a go-ahead field goal in that situation, but they could smell the end zone. It proved to be a good call, and it sealed their first win over Central since Sept. 13, 1986.
When it got the ball back, Central only had time for one final play, but Balkenbush’s pass fell incomplete.
“Ultimately we wanted to make them have to go down the field and score to beat us,” said Lewistown coach Derek Lear. “I wanted it for those guys up front, too, and to finish off that drive the way they did was pretty awesome.”
After Boyd’s touchdown, Rams coach Jim Stanton opted to send his offense out for a two-point conversion try. But a false start pushed the ball back five yards and Central was forced to kick the point-after attempt.
“We couldn’t get off the field on that last drive, but you can go back even further than that. We had opportunities to not make that an issue,” Stanton said. “We had a touchdown called back, the two point conversion … just too many mistakes and it caught up to us. Then they put a nice drive together and that was the difference.”
Balkenbush threw a touchdown pass to A.J. Ulrichs that was wiped out by a holding call, and then a dropped snap killed another Rams scoring chance with just seconds left before halftime.
Lewistown quarterback Chance Fields threw two touchdown passes to wideout Luke Clinton, both on perfectly placed throws down the left sideline. The first one went for 56 yards against single coverage to tie the score 7-7 in the second quarter. The second was a 39-yarder against two defenders that put the Eagles up 14-7 in the third.
“Amazing,” Boyce said of those two plays. “Luke is an insane athlete, and I wouldn’t want anybody else in the backfield as our quarterback. Chase Fields is my guy. Those two make great connections every game.”
The Rams took the lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Boyd, giving them the upper hand in what they hoped would be a continuation of historical outcomes against Lewistown.
But the Eagles had other ideas.
“This puts us in a great spot,” Lear said. “We still have to take care of business with Miles City coming in for senior night (next week), but I told these boys that they’ve earned the right to play in big games because we’ve taken care of business all year.
“To beat a team that’s ranked above us and had the same record as us that we haven’t beaten in forever, it feels really great.”