Titans clear Longhorns hurdle, head for state title clash in Drummond
FORT BENTON – The Flint Creek Titans punched their ticket to the MHSA 8-Man Football State Finals Saturday with a convincing 48-18 win over the Longhorns in Fort Benton. The championship matchup will be against Scobey November 21 at Drummond High School as the Spartans beat Shelby 44-28 in their semifinal matchup.
“These kids play with momentum,” said Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler after the game. “We were able to get the two scores and a turnover (in the third quarter) and … I just can’t say enough about the Titans and how physical they are, how mentally tough they are and how much heart they have.”
That heart was put on full display as Flint Creek battled Fort Benton throughout the first half. The squads alternated scoring plays with the Longhorns always seeming to throw the first punch.
Fort Benton’s William Ullery got the first touchdown of the day when he found Jayce Thompson on a nine-yard pass in the end zone with 3:43 to go in the opening quarter. But just over two minutes later, the Titan senior QB Kade Cutler scored from three yards out to knot the game at 6-6.
"I just can’t say enough about the Titans and how physical they are, how mentally tough they are and how much heart they have.”
~ Mike Cutler, Flint Creek Head Coach
The teams each added two more scores in the second stanza. Ullery hit Hayden Diekhans with TD passes of 28 and 11 yards for the Longhorns while Flint Creek stayed in step with short scoring runs from Cutler and Preston Metesh.
With just four seconds remaining in the first half, Fort Benton faced a fourth and long from the Titan 11. Flint Creek denied the scoring try, holding fast and forcing the 18-18 halftime score into the locker room as they got ready to take the third quarter kickoff.
“(That was) extremely important,” explained Mike Cutler. “We knew this game was going to be a battle. That team plays like their coach played, with a lot of heart and they’re very physical. But that stop right at the end of the second quarter kept us tied at halftime and we knew we got the ball at the start of the third quarter. I saved those two formations specifically for the second (half) because I didn’t want them to chalk those up and we were just able to pound them and wear them out.”
The two formations that Cutler alluded to gave Flint Creek a look that proved Fort Benton didn’t have an answer for. After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Titans marched the ball down to the three where Cutler found Metesh on a short out pattern for the TD and their first lead of the day, 26-18.
The Longhorns stalled on their next possession, ending when they failed in going for a fourth and two. They attempted a trick play that went awry from the snap and left Flint Creek with the ball at the Fort Benton 17. Two plays later, Cutler hammered the ball in from four yards out to give the visitors a 34-18 lead with 4:49 in the third.
But the onslaught wasn’t over. In fact, the Titan defense was just getting started.
A few plays into the next Longhorn drive, Flint Creek nose guard Cordell Langton hit Ullery and forced a fumble that he would recover at the opponent’s 11 yard line. The turnover led to a Cutler three yard TD 1:47 later and a 40-18 margin.
“I hit that kid hard and when I did my assignment right I looked up and saw that ball and I got a hold of it,” said Langton of the fumble recovery. “We just told ourselves we’ve gotta focus up. … Everyone did their part and altogether we put our hearts into it and played with emotion.”
Despite the jarring third period, Fort Benton seemed to be collecting itself and moving toward a score when Kade Cutler ripped the ball away from Hayden Axtman to stop the drive. The play gave Flint creek the ball and as the game entered the final period, Cutler would put the exclamation mark on the day with his fifth scoring run.
“(We) had some mistakes in the first half, some assignment issues and that’s where two of their touchdowns came from were mistake by us. … Two of them were on me,” said Kade Cutler after the game. “Offensively we saved two formations for the second half.”
When asked what the chance to go to a third title game in four years meant to him, the senior play caller responded, “It really means a ton. We worked hard for this. We worked hard in the weight room.
Our defense has been amazing all year. It was extremely important. Our defense wins us games.”
In analyzing his team’s loss, Fort Benton Coach Jori Thompson focused on the one glaring stat in the scorebook.
“More than anything we just turned the ball over. You have five turnovers in one half that doesn’t help. I like our chances if we don’t turn the ball over.”
And when asked about his Longhorns making the semifinals for the second season in a row, Thompson added “A lot of that comes from guys working in the offseason, putting time in. This bunch of guys just worked their butts off. That’s why you have success it comes down to the athletes and the work they put in.”
Flint Creek – 6/12/22/8 – 48
Fort Benton – 6/12/0/0 – 18
3:43 FB Ullery 9 yd pass to Thompson TD. Run failed.
1:17 FC Cutler 3 yd run TD. Run Failed.
11:54 FB Ullery 28 yd pass to Diekhans TD. Pass failed.
9:05 FC Cutler 1 yd run TD. Run failed.
5:42 FB Ullery 11 yd pass to Diekhans TD. Run failed.
2:19 FC PMetesh 3 yd run TD. Run failed.
6:43 FC Cutler 3 yd pass to PMetesh TD. PMetesh run.
4:49 FC Cutler 4 yd run TD. Cutler pass to Wagner.
2:01 FC Cutler 3 yd run TD. Run failed.
7:23 FC Cutler 1 yd run TD. Cutler run.