Pryor, Montana (Sept. 18) – The 2023 Mountain Crow Bowl rematch between Lodge Grass and the Plenty Coups Warriors would be played in Pryor and under 6-man football rules and would feature a surging Warriors team, fresh off a 38-0 season opening drubbing of Hays-Lodgepole on the road and a Lodge Grass squad very fresh off a hard fought 36-26 loss at Broadus on Sept. 15 and looking for their first win of the season.
In last season’s Mountain Crow Bowl matchup between host team Lodge Grass and the visiting Plenty Coups Warriors, the Indians scored 42 unanswered points to battle back from an 18-point (30-12) first half deficit and earn Crow Reservation bragging rights with a 54-30 win played under 8-man football rules.
The stage was thus set for an unseasonably warm and breezy Monday night Crow Reservation football clash.
Kickoff was scheduled for 4 p.m. but delayed about an hour and a half due to the Lodge Grass public schools being placed in a lockdown earlier in the day. Almost immediately after the LGHS bus pulled into Plenty Coups High School, the Indians football team were lined up on the field ready for the opening kickoff. Game officials, aware that the Plenty Coups facility lacked field lights, sought to hurry the game along as best as possible before sunset.
Early on, neither team was ready to light things up on the scoreboard offensively as both the Indians and Warriors went four and out on their initial possessions.
Perhaps due to Lodge Grass not starting some of its key offensive players, the Indians showed they were not quite ready to shake the turnover bug of the first two games (9 total) by losing a fumble at the Plenty Coups 1-yard line. However, much like in Broadus three nights earlier, the Indians defense bailed out the offense, this time by forcing a safety and putting the first points on the scoreboard for a 2-0 lead, which ended up being the score at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, LG turned the football over again with a lost fumble, this time at their own 15-yard line. The Warriors quickly capitalized with a 13-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Ashton Old Dwarf to junior Canaan Sees The Ground.
Old Dwarf added the point after touchdown (worth only 1-point under 6-man football rules) to put Plenty Coups up 7-2. Once again, Lodge Grass turned the football over with a lost fumble (the third turnover of the game), and Plenty Coups again capitalized with a touchdown strike and successful PAT to take a 14-2 lead.
The Indians fought back with a 44-yard drive culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior Silas Howe to pull LG within 14-8. The Warriors defense stopped Howe on the point after touchdown, however, and the score remained 14-8. Pinned back at their own 3-yard line, senior Warriors quarterback Larry Plainbull connected with senior Fabian Wise Spirit, who got free like a spirit and outran the LG defense for a 77-yard touchdown in one of the biggest highlights of the night to put PCHS up 20-8.
Not to be outdone, the Class B Indians bounced right back with a 75-yard drive that ended impressively with a 45-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Myron Little Light to cut the Warriors lead to 20-14. Little Light then connected with sophomore Colvin Wyles on the PAT to cut the lead to 20-15 with 3:02 remaining in the first half.
The second quarter highlight reel continued with a 48-yard touchdown pass from PC junior Keith Stands to junior Xander Goes Ahead on a bit of improvisation as Stands flung a short pass to Goes Ahead as he was being tackled by LG defenders.
The point after touchdown was not successful but the Warriors lead was stretched to 26-15.
It did not take the Indians long to strike back as Myron Little Light connected with Silas Howe on a 50-yard touchdown pass, followed by a Howe run to covert the point after touchdown to bring LG back to within one possession at 26-22. The game was becoming reminiscent of George Foreman’s famous heavyweight battle with Ron Lyle in 1976, and the slugfest continued with yet another second quarter highlight, this time a 58-yard Warrior touchdown pass from Stands to Goes Ahead with only 8 seconds left in the half, followed by a point after touchdown to push the PCHS halftime lead to 33-22.
Once again, the Indians would have to make a comeback in order to defeat the Warriors.
As in the Broadus game, the Lodge Grass defense began stepping up big in the second half. A quarterback sack by sophomore Hunter Kindness and a big tackle for loss and an interception by sophomore Colvin Wyles helped trigger the defense into stiffening up against the potent Warrior offense.
Additionally, PCHS players Ashton Old Dwarf and Xander Goes Ahead were sidelined with injuries, severely limiting Plenty Coups as the Warriors began the game with only 9 total players suited out. The Indians then struck on offense with a 38-yard touchdown pass from senior Todd Amyotte to Myron Little Light on a trick play to pull to within 33-28.
Following another Lodge Grass interception by Colvin Wyles, this time it was the more usual connection of Myron Little Light to Todd Amyotte for a 21-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead for LG. This score was followed by a pass and catch for a point after touchdown from Little Light to Myron Backbone to push the lead to 35-33.
The Warriors then moved the ball inside Indians territory but two consecutive dropped passes in the end zone, followed by a fourth down run by Xander Goes Ahead that was less than a yard from the first down marker and the Indians would take possession at their own 10-yard line. By this point in the game, the available daylight was waning as dusk settled in and the public address announcer asked fans to turn on their headlights (“put them on brights even”) to aid the players, coaches and officials on the field.
The Indians, with or without sufficient light, marched methodically down the field 70 yards, capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Little Light to Amyotte, followed by a point after touchdown run by Silas Howe to set the margin at 42-33, advantage Lodge Grass, which would be the final margin of the game as the officials called an end to the game with 4:24 remaining due to player safety based on lack of sufficient natural light.
With the hard-fought win, the Indians improved to 1-2 on the season and next will play at Lame Deer on Friday, Sept. 22. The always scrappy Plenty Coups Warriors dropped to 1-1 and will look to nurse player injuries and bounce back in their homecoming game on Sept. 30 versus Northern Cheyenne.