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Billings Central took an early punch in the mouth and stood tall in a heavyweight matchup on Saturday night.

In the matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in Class A — as well as a rematch of last year’s State A title game — the Rams erased an early 10-0 deficit and took advantage of an injury to Dillon starting quarterback Ben Folsom for a convincing 38-17 win at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.

“After we spotted ‘em those 10 points right away, we came back and fought hard,” said Central linebacker Colton Welhaven. “We had a few missed assignments on those first two drives, but we got those things corrected and we played tough the rest of the night.

“Losing Folsom was big for them. He’s a load to tackle and he’s a great quarterback. But they’re a good team and they’re really well-coached, so we just had to keep playing hard and have every guy do their job.”

Dillon led 10-0 midway through the first quarter after a 60-yard Cooper Lamey touchdown run and a 25-yard Taylor Cashmore field goal.

After Central got on the board on an 8-yard TD run by Torry Huppert, the game turned when Folsom suffered an apparent concussion early in the second quarter. On a third-and-18 play, Folsom was sacked by a trio of Central defenders and did not return to the game.

“He’s an outstanding player,” said Central coach Jim Stanton of Folsom. “But injuries are part of what happens in football … our kids rose to that and we overcame some adversity tonight to get a big win. Getting down 10 like that and overcoming turnovers (Central fumbled five times in the game, losing two of them) was big for our kids. We fought through those things and played a solid four quarters.”

After Dillon’s 10-0 start, Central scored 24 unanswered points — including a 5-yard Jacob Stanton touchdown run and a 38-yard Luke Daly field goal in the final 41 seconds of the first half. The field goal was set up by a Sean Getchell interception with six seconds left in the half.

Central (4-0) got two touchdown runs and a TD pass from Stanton as well as a TD run by Connor Cerkovnik.

Cerkovnik rushed for 84 yards, while Stanton rushed for 73 and threw for 160. The Rams finished with 237 yards rushing on 47 carries.

“Our o-line was sweet tonight,” said Jacob Stanton. “The whole front five had a great game. The way they were blocking was the key to our offense tonight.”

Stanton’s touchdown pass was a 7-yarder to Ian Byorth in the second quarter. On second-and-goal from the 7, Stanton lofted a high ball to the left corner of the end zone, where Byorth leaped and snatched the ball away from Dillon defender Austin Carver and hung on as the two crashed to the turf.

Lamey rushed for 85 yards for Dillon (1-1). The Beavers’ lone score of the second half came on a 12-yard pass from M.J. Simkins to Chance Kluesner.

Central heads to Sidney for its conference opener on Friday night. The Rams have won six straight Eastern A regular-season titles and 29 straight regular-season games against Eastern A opponents.

“This was a real good test for us to get ready for the conference schedule,” said Jim Stanton. “I told the kids to enjoy this one for tonight and then we’ll get ready for Sidney. Right now we’re 0-0 like everybody else in the Eastern A. We have to go back to work and go after our goal of winning the Eastern A and going on to the playoffs.”

The Rams’ next home game is Saturday, Sept. 29 vs. Miles City.

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Sports editor for the Billings Gazette.