The Columbia Falls football team started the season off on a high note, downing rival Hamilton 23-20 on the road Friday.
The Wildcats forced three Hamilton turnovers and sacked Hamilton quarterback Bridger Bauder three times in the victory.
Quarterback Austin Green was 19 of 33 for 226 yards passing and three interceptions in his first game starting behind center. Two of the errant passes were on him, the other was a receiver’s fault, coach Jaxon Schweikert said.
Green made up for the turnovers with a pick-six of Bauder in the first quarter to put the Cats up, 6-0.
The Cats also rushed the ball 28 times for 181 yards as well — look for the Cats to run the ball a lot this season. They have four solid running backs.
Columbia Falls had a 13-7 lead at the break, but Hamilton answered with 13 points in the third to go up 20-16. But Green ran it in from two yards out to regain the lead in the fourth.
Of the 150 or so plays in the game, Schweikert said Green played all but about 10 of them.
Green rushed for 130 yards. Ben Windauer caught eight passes for 121 yards and Drew Morgan had six receptions for 75 yards.
Windauer also kicked a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter that proved to be the difference.
“I was really please with the effort and attitude and execution overall,” Schweikert said. He said they just have to shore up a few things on defense.
This week they travel to Dillon to play another rivalry game. Dillon beat the Cats last season in the state A championship, but these are two different squads this season.
“We just got to be us,” Schweikert said. “We’re a really tough match for them.”
Columbia Falls 13 3 0 7 — 23
Hamilton 0 7 13 0 — 20
CF — Austin Green interception return (Ben Windauer kick no good), 6:08
CF — Windauer 18 pass from Green (Windauer kick good), 2:08
H — Tyler Chouinard 5 pass from Carson Rostad (Bridger Bauder kick good), 10:33
CF — Windauer 36 FG good, 0:00
H — Rostad 1 run (Bauder kick good), 8:21
H — Camron Rothie 44 pass from Rostad (Bauder kick no good), 6:18
CF — Green 2 run (Windauer kick good), 9:17