HELENA -- The Kyle Tabbert show continues, as the Helena High running back rushed for four more touchdowns Friday while leading Helena High to a 40-17 trouncing of Missoula Sentinel.
The once-beaten No. 2 Bengals improve to 7-1, while Sentinel slips to 4-4.
Tabbert carried the ball 22 times for 148 yards and reached pay-dirt on runs of 1, 9, 1 and 42 yards. Over the last three contests, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior has gained 489 yards on the ground and scored 12 touchdowns (10 rushing, two receiving).
Helena kicked off to open the game at Vigilante Stadium, and the Spartans fumbled the return to set up Tabbert’s first score. On Sentinel’s next possession, Helena's Sam Shepherd intercepted Rylan Ortt at the visitor’s 47-yard-line, leading to another TD by Tabbert.
After Caden Messer scored for the Spartans in the second period, Helena’s Alex Johnson pirated the first of his two interceptions on the night.
On Sentinel’s next possession, Shepherd made a huge stop to thwart a fourth-and-2 attempt. At 1:43 before halftime, Tabbert tallied his third trip to the end zone, and the Bengals took a 19-6 lead into the locker room.
A Sentinel field goal after the intermission was followed by Tabbert’s 42-yard sprint to the house, when the hosts went for it on fourth-and-one. Then Jack Kanta recovered a Missoula fumble, followed by a 45-yard scoring bomb from red-and-white quarterback Kaleb Winterburn to Zach Huth.
Next, Helena’s Caleb Ferguson’s interception halted a visitor’s drive at their 25-yard-line. Then to open the final frame, HHS linebacker Keanan Horne tackled the Spartan ball carrier in the endzone for a safety, moving the home team’s lead to 34-9 with 9:24 left on the clock.
At that point Bengals coach Tony Arntson began bringing in the second string off the bench. Then the two clubs traded touchdowns to close out the scoring --Sentinel on a TD strike from Ortt to Brandon Morley, and Helena High on Johnson’s pick-six for 25 yards, which was preceded by a big sack by Kanta.
Winterburn finished the night completing 6 of 11 passes for 109 yards.
“The O-line did very well tonight, holding off a good Sentinel defense, and allowing Kaleb time to convert several third-and-eights and third-and-nines,” HHS coach Tony Arntson said. “And the defense played tough, they forced a few turnovers, and took that (Nick) Jermer kid out of the game, he’s a big weapon for them.
"And Alex Johnson has really developed into a force on defense."