Titans secure West’s top slot with win at Darby
DARBY – On a night when the stage was set for a lot of things to go wrong, most of it went right.
The Flint Creek Titans posted a 36-6 win over the Tigers in Darby Friday, improving to 7-0 on the year and claiming the No. 1 playoff seed in the MHSA 8-Man Football Playoffs that start October 31. The 30-point margin of victory was more than enough to secure the tie-breaker advantage over Thompson Falls, who is also undefeated at 8-0 after besting Charlo 22-0 Thursday.
With their wins, the Titans and Blue Hawks are now the only remaining undefeated teams within the 8-man ranks. Joliet lost to Park City last week 46-42 to fall to 5-1. The rankings should reflect that Flint Creek will move to the No. 1 seed in the state as well.
The Titans started the night by getting the news that starting quarterback and Montana State University signee senior Kade Cutler would not be playing. Earlier in the day Cutler had experienced some stomach issues and was admitted to the hospital.
So amidst the rain and wind, reserve QB Andrew Tallon was called upon to step in and direct what is one of Montana’s most potent offenses. In its seven games this year Flint Creek has outscored opponents 402-26. The 36-point night was their lowest output of the season, but more than enough to keep them moving forward toward the postseason.
“Earlier Friday morning Kade texted our group chat and said he wasn’t going to be able to play and that’s when I knew I was going to have to step up for the team,” said Tallon of the start. “I just tried to act like everything was the same and just go through my normal routine, but my nerves were definitely a lot higher than usual.
“(We’re) hoping the best for Kade and I just want them to know that if Kade needs an extra week I can give him an extra week of rest.”
Tallon’s leadership was tested from the start, as he stepped into an offense that he had taken very few snaps in practice for. He was sacked once and had two fumbles on handoffs to Preston Metesh in the first quarter, But he bounced back and helped get Flint Creek to its first score at 6:27 to play in the opening stanza as Metesh hammered the ball in from five yards out.
With the lead 6-0 after one quarter, the Titans entered the second and quickly found pay dirt again at 10:07. Metesh scored a second time from five yards out and Tallon added the two point conversion for a 14-0 margin.
Darby’s next set of downs went nowhere and ended with a snap over the punter’s head. The Titans recovered and Metesh scored his third TD of the night on a three-yard jaunt. Tallon added the second of his three two-point conversions in the game and Flint Creek held a 22-0 lead.
The Tigers tried mounting a scoring drive just before the half, but it was ended as the buzzer went off when Titan defensive back Tucker Weaver swooped in and sacked Darby’s Preston Smith. Weaver, along with teammate Cordell Langton and the rest of the gang in white, dominated the line all night long and gave the host team practically nowhere to run.
The second half saw Tallon start to get more comfortable in his role as Flint Creek’s play caller. He hit Ethan Parke with a 68-yard scoring strike in the third and ran for a 38-yard score in the fourth to seal the victory.
Darby managed a score with 13 seconds left in play when Smith hit Brandon Leavens with a 28-yard scoring pass.
“Our defense played well again, but we missed a lot of open field tackles,” said Flint Creek head Coach JC Holland. “A win is a win. Darby always plays us tough. But yeah, we’re happy.”
The Titans will now prepare for the 1-6 Pirates October 24 in Victor. A win in that game will secure Flint Creek’s claim to the No. 1 seed in the West and give them an opening round playoff game.
Flint Creek – 6/16/8/6 – 36
Darby – 0/0/0/6 – 6
6:27 FC PMetesh 5 yard run TD. Run failed.
10:01 FC PMetesh 5 yard run TD. Tallon run.
6:36 FC PMetesh 3 yard run TD. Tallon run.
3:36 FC Tallon 68-yard pass to Parke TD. Tallon run.
7:18 FC Tallon 38 yard run TD. Run failed.
0:13 DAR Smith 28 yard pass to Leavens TD. Pass failed.