Billings Skyview had some shining moments in the second quarter of Friday’s season opener.
But the Falcons were no match for Kalispell Glacier’s Kyle Griffith, who stole the show from start to finish in the Wolfpack’s 38-14 win in the Class AA football season opener at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
The 6-foot, 180-pound senior caught five passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, had a 3-yard touchdown run and added a field goal and five extra-point kicks.
“That was fun,” smiled Griffith. “I’m really happy with the way we came out and played. We left Kalispell at 5:45 a.m. and made the drive over here, so it feels great to play well and get the win.”
Griffith got Glacier on the board first with a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:07 left in the first quarter. That started a 21-0 Wolfpack run to start the game, but Griffith was not even close to being done.
In the third quarter, he caught a pass from Taylor Hulslander at the line of scrimmage and sprinted 43 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he caught a short screen pass from Hulslander and was again gone down the right sideline — this time from 28 yards out.
“Taylor and I have been playing catch and doing 7 on 7 stuff all summer, so we were ready to go,” said Griffith. “Those two plays (the touchdown catches) were all blocking. Taylor got me the ball and the blocking was perfect on both plays.”
In between Griffith’s scoring plays, Skyview put together back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter to cut a 21-0 lead to 20-14 heading into halftime.
The Falcons’ first score was set up by Kyle Broadbent’s 35-yard punt return to the Glacier 47. Alex Picicci gained 18 yards on three carries on the drive and Drake Schafer got loose for a 21-yard run to set up Konner Wiechman’s 1-yard quarterback keeper for the touchdown.
After forcing a Glacier three-and-out, the Falcons got the ball back with 3:10 left in the half and went 90 yards in 10 plays, with Picicci scoring from two yards out with 27.9 seconds left. The drive was highlighted by Matt Fuhrman’s diving catch of a 37-yard Wiechman pass.
“We gave them a big head start, but once things got clicking there in the second quarter we did some good things,” said Skyview coach Ron Lebsock. “We just need to do that more consistently … we never really got things going again in the second half.
“But you can’t take anything away from Glacier. That’s a very good football team on both sides of the ball, and the execution factor was on their side tonight. They played well.”
After Griffith’s touchdown run to start the scoring, the Wolfpack got a 3-yard TD run from Kellyn Faraone and a 21-yard interception return by defensive lineman Danny Roe — who cut in front of Fuhrman on a screen pass — to go up 21-0 with 7:32 left in the second quarter.
“I thought we played well outside of a little lull there in the second quarter,” said Glacier coach Grady Bennett. “We had a stretch of plays there where we kind of relaxed and took some plays off, and Skyview did exactly what a good team will do when you give them an opportunity.
“But outside of that, I was pleased. We did a nice job of staying disciplined in our base defense, which is what you have to do against Skyview. Taylor was his usual self … he does a great job of staying poised and executing what we want to do. And Kyle is just a dynamic athlete. He’s our go-to guy and you saw exactly why … he can get it anywhere on the field and take it to the end zone.”
Hulslander completed 19 of 28 for 257 yards.
Picicci led the Falcons with 64 yards on 18 carries, and Fuhrman added 49 yards rushing and 42 receiving.
Skyview is in action at home again next week, hosting Butte at 4 p.m. That game will be followed by West vs. Helena High at 7:30.