For the second consecutive week, Capital came out flat.
But, for the second consecutive week, the Bruins caught fire in the locker room at half, on Friday roaring back from 14 down to upend visiting Kalispell Flathead 30-24 at Vigilante Stadium.
Running backs Seth Schneider and Brennan Casey again led the way for the offense, catching the edge, running through huge holes up the middle and breaking arm tackles on the way to a combined three touchdowns. Schneider finished with 150 yards and touchdown runs of 57 and 41 yards, and Casey broke free for what wound up being the winning score, a 54-yard touchdown. He finished with 76 total rushing yards behind an offensive line that physically dominated the Braves throughout the second half.
“It was just a lot of what we were seeing, and getting a feel for the game,” said senior lineman Carson Shuman of the halftime talk. “I think we kind of need to do that a little earlier. But at halftime we just kind of got jacked up and we came out and got after them, definitely.”
Shuman added that helping the running backs succeed as they have in the last two weeks -- Schneider is now approaching 350 yards with five scores already this season – is the name of the game for the Bruins in the trenches.
“It’s awesome as an offensive line. And that’s what it should be every week,” he said. “Definitely, with our experienced offensive line, that’s what it should be. It’s a great feeling.
“And we’re definitely not unsung heroes. They do a great job of telling us good job and stuff.”
It was Flathead doing the best work in the first half, with quarterback Taylor Morton leading his team down the field and scoring on a keeper from three yards out midway through the first quarter.
Schneider gave the visitors a resounding answer just 33 seconds later, catching the corner along the Bruin sidelines and cruising in from 57 yards out. But that was the last the Bruins would see of the end zone for a while.
Morton hooked up with Anthony Jones for touchdown passes of 45 and 64 yards to put Flathead up 21-7. And, while Capital did manage a 24-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, Flathead was in charge.
But then came the second half, when control was wrested away from the Braves. The Capital defense refused to give, forcing four consecutive punts. Three of those drives were of the three-and-out variety, and before three of those punts came bruising sacks deep in Flathead territory that had the stadium buzzing.
“It’s a huge momentum booster to know that they can’t do anything on the defense,” said defensive lineman Justin Jenks. “We just have to come out every play and give it our best. We know we have a good defense. Just finding a footing in the second half was great. We had a flat start in the first half and we just came out in the second half ready to play.”
So, too, did the offense.
First, quarterback Matt McGinley punched it in from the 1-yard line, one play after Schneider was initially ruled in the end zone from the 10-yard line, only to have the call reversed.
Two and a half minutes later, Schneider rumbled in from 41 yards out. The PAT went wide left, but Capital was now in front, 23-21.
Then it was Casey’s turn, breaking through the middle of the defense and weaving his way 54 yards to pay dirt.
Flathead finally got something going, and Alex Coulter hit a 39-yard field goal with five minutes left to make it a one-score game. The Braves forced a punt and had a chance, getting down to the Bruins’ 18-yard line with 1:36 to play. But a false start was sandwiched by a pair of incomplete passes, making it third down. Linebacker Nick Morrison broke up that attempt, and Mark Northey ended it in the end zone, elevating and stealing away a jump ball for his second interception in as many weeks.
The win moves Capital to 2-0 and prevents Flathead from doing the same. The team was attempting to win the first two games of the season for the first time since 2006.
And, while the win was sweet, Capital’s veteran players know that focus is paramount.
“It feels amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Jenks said of 2-0. “Now we’ve got Butte.”
Asked the same question, Shuman gave the same reply.
“It’s awesome. Now we’ve got Butte.”