The annual battle between Lewisville and Great Falls extended off the field this week, with both sides fighting for a much larger cause.
The schools raised money all week to contribute to research for Sanfilippo syndrome, a debilitating, terminal disease being bravely fought by Great Falls coach Tom Butler’s nine-year-old daughter, Paisleigh. The announcement came just before kickoff that the sides had combined to raise $3,000 for the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation.
Then, the opening whistle blew. The rivalry, as usual, lived up to the hype.
Great Falls continued its overtime prowess of the young season, turning away Lewisville on the first possession of extra period to pull out a 32-26 victory.
“I thought my guys, for the first time all year, really had our composure about ourselves,” said Butler. “That’s something we talked about in the pre-game speech. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Following a somewhat quiet opening stanza, the sides erupted for a wild, back-and-forth second quarter, in which they combined for 33 points. Lewisville scored twice in the first three-plus minutes of the period, with Christian Yoder and Devin McCrorey hooking up for a 19-yard scoring strike, followed by a one-play, 58-yard drive Demetric Hardin capped with a long touchdown scamper.
Great Falls (2-1) got two touchdown throws from Tommy Seagle in the quarter, with a 30-yard strike from the junior to D.J. Adams and a 28-yard hookup with Xavier Brown book-ending a 15-yard Lewisville touchdown from Hardin to Jadon Scott.
“My defensive staff went in at halftime and drew up a plan to stop what they were doing in the first half, and it worked,” said Butler. “We really stifled them.”
Both defenses stiffened in a scoreless third, before Great Falls broke the ice in the final period.
A Kelton Talford snag on fourth-and-one kept alive a Red Devil drive that a 10-yard, Seagle-to-Moore connection capped one play later to give the home side a 26-20 lead. Hardin then knotted the proceedings on the ensuing kickoff, taking the ball 81 yards down the left sideline to pay dirt.
The sides traded stops on their respective final drives of regulation, with Lewisville knocking away a pass on the final play. The Lions were whistled for a personal foul after the play, however, resulting in the penalty being enforced to start overtime. Lewisville was forced to play the overtime without quarterback Christian Yoder, and Great Falls turned away the visitors’ first drive.
“First-and-goal from the 10 and first-and-goal from the 25 are two different things, especially when your passer and a guy with versatility in your attack is on the sideline,” said Lewisville coach Will Mitchell. “I’d say it was pretty significant, but it wasn’t the only thing. There were many (things) like that.”
Great Falls then ran three plays on its first drive of overtime, before Seagle took the snap on 4th-and-20. The junior found Adams in the center of the field, bringing home the walk-off score and earning back-to-back victories in the rivalry.
“We called a time out and called the play, and just told him to throw it up there, and it would be open,” said Butler of his quarterback. “He trusted me, and it was open, and we scored.”
With so much drama in the air, what went through Butler’s mind as the ball wound toward the end zone?
“Touchdown,” said Butler, with a bit of a smile.
Seagle completed 14-of-25 throws for the Red Devils, finding Adams and Moore on multiple touchdown connections. Moore snagged eight passes for 106 yards, with Adams grabbing three for 69. Hardin carried 19 times for 115 yards for Lewisville, in addition to the touchdown throw and kickoff return.
Lewisville hosts the Carolina Bearcats next Friday night. Great Falls hosts Andrew Jackson. Both games are slated for a 7:30 start.