It took two overtimes, but the Great Falls Red Devils edged the C.A. Johnson Hornets 39-38 in a non-region game at Great Falls Thursday night.
The win got the Tom Butler era at Great Falls started on a positive note.
Both teams scored in both overtime sessions, but the extra point by the Red Devils in the second overtime lifted them to the win.
Elijah Simpson’s six-yard run in the second overtime gave Great Falls a 39-32 margin. The Hornets answered with a score by Isom Harris to make it 39-38. On the two-point try, Kell Brown knifed through and tackled Damodre Anderson short of the goal line to preserve the victory.
“I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week,” Butler said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but we played with a lot of heart. At the end we were playing with 16 players because of injuries and cramps.”
After the Red Devils blew a 13-point lead in the fourth period, they stepped up in the overtime sessions and pulled out the victory.
“That really showed me a lot about this team,” Butler said. “We could have folded our tent and gone home, but we stepped it up and got the win. That shows the pride this team has in themselves and their community.”
Great Falls took a 6-0 lead on the first play of the game when Donnell Adams took a lateral and passed to Brown for 66 yards and a touchdown.
C.A. Johnson answered three possessions later when Harris hit Desmond Martin on a four-yard pass, and the kick gave the Hornets a 7-6 advantage with 1:54 left in the opening quarter.
The Red Devils stormed back and scored the next two touchdowns. Quay Bowser picked up a Harris fumble and scampered 58 yards for a score and a 14-7 lead after Brown got the two-point conversion.
Simpson added to the Great Falls lead with a four-yard run that upped the count to 20-7 with 8:45 left in the half. That was the cushion the Red Devils took to the locker room at intermission.
Both teams scored in the third period. Anderson scored on a four-yard run and the Red Devils lead was down to 20-13. Da’Shawn Johnson countered for Great Falls on a seven-yard run, and it was 26-13 with 8:35 left in the third stanza.
C. A. Johnson rallied in the final 12 minutes to tie the game and send it to the overtime sessions. Martin scored on a 5-yard run with 8:12 to go in the game, and the Great Falls lead was cut to 26-20. When Leroy McKenzie got in from three yards out with 3:42 to play the contest was tied.
C. A. Johnson had 15 first downs to a dozen for the Red Devils.
Great Falls finished with 107 yards rushing and 128 yards in the air. Johnson led the rushing effort with 51 yards on 13 carries. Tommy Seagle completed seven of 17 passes for Great Falls. Brown led the receivers with one catch for 66 yards..
C. A. Johnson had 274 yards on the ground and 69 through the air. Anderson led the ground attack for the Hornets with 122 yards on eight carries. Harris completed seven of 14 aerials for 69 yards.
The two teams were penalized a total of 29 times. Great Falls fumbled three times and lost all of them, while the Hornets had four fumbles and lost three.
Great Falls travels to Whitmire next week for a non-region contest.