Wolves Advance to Quarterfinals
November 1, 2023
Throughout the 2023 season, there has been a buzz building around the Three Forks High School football team as they inched closer to the postseason. After finishing the regular season with a 6-3 record, the Wolves would travel north on October 28 for a tough battle in inclement weather conditions against a streaking Malta High School team. Three Forks would rise to the occasion and made huge plays in all three phases of the game on their way to a spectacular 40-22 road win over the Mustangs.
With the opening-round win, the Wolves will advance to the quarterfinals and another road matchup on November 4 against undefeated Red Lodge, the top seed from the Eastern Division.
Following the game, Head Coach Connor Sullivan said it felt really good to get the postseason win, and it meant a lot to the players.
"That's a good ball club in Malta. It's a tough offense to prepare for, but our kids had the right attitude and energy, and we came out and executed and got the win," Sullivan said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Three Forks would score the game's first points on a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior Colten Hayder. A successful two-point conversion run from Shane Williams would put the Wolves up 8-0 with 11:47 let in the first half.
The Mustangs would answer on their next drive and cut the lead to 8-6 with 6:39 left in the second quarter.
Three Forks would bounce back with another big play and took a 16-6 lead with 6:16 left in the second quarter on a 35-yard Williams touchdown and a successful two-point conversion run by Sawyer Andersen.
It appeared Malta would take momentum into the break after a touchdown to cut the lead to 16-14 with 35 seconds left in the first half, but once again, the Wolves would answer with a big play when Hayder returned the ensuing kick 85 yards for a touchdown and a 22-14 lead.
"It was a back-and-forth ball game early on, and that's what you would expect. We were on the road, and they were at home and were ready to go. That kickoff return was pretty big for our momentum, and we continued that into the second half," Sullivan said.
Three Forks would score the only points of the third quarter with 7:58 remaining on a five-yard Andersen touchdown run to up the lead to 28-14.
Near the end of the fourth quarter, the Three Forks defense stepped and stopped on a fourth-down play near the goal line.
Two plays later, Williams would nearly take it to the house on a 92-yard run to the Malta one-yard line. Andersen would find the endzone a play later to push the Three Forks lead to 34-14 with 10:50 left in regulation.
After Malta cut the lead to 34-22 with 5:51 left in the fourth, Williams would again find the endzone, this time on a 55-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 40-22.
"There is going to be adversity. This is playoff football, and every team you play is going to be good, and it's only going to get harder and harder. I'm really proud of these guys. They put the right work, preparation, and focus in. We will enjoy this tonight, but come Sunday morning, we will reset and get ready for the next opponent. They (Red Lodge) are good, but we will be ready to go," Sullivan said.
Williams said it felt awesome to get the playoff win.
"We just need to have a good week of practice and come ready to play and to play our best game," Williams said.
Kickoff on November 4 is set for 1 p.m.