MISSOULA — Levi Janacaro wanted to end the game.
The Missoula Big Sky quarterback busted out a 48-yard run on the first play after the Eagles recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
His touchdown capped the scoring and a big personal rushing day in Big Sky’s 33-20 win over Kalispell Flathead on Thursday at Missoula County Stadium.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m tired of all these close games we have to grind out and I’d like a couple-score cushion so we could take it easy,’” Janacaro said. “My line did a great job and allowed me to break free for a touchdown.”
Janacaro finished 3-of-9 passing for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He carried the ball 23 times for 266 yards and three scores.
All 87 passing yards and both touchdowns came in the first half as he completed three of six pass attempts, tossing a 22-yard score to Rylan Wilcox on a bootleg and a 44-yard pass to Ben Maehl, who had a defender draped all over him.
He showcased his legs in the second half, running 15 times for 238 yards and three touchdowns, after being held to 28 yards on eight attempts in the first half.
“I think he’s slowing down in his old age as a senior going through there,” Big Sky coach Matt Johnson joked. “I give our O-line a ton of credit. They had two man mountains in the middle on the defensive line. I thought our O-line did a heck of a job run blocking.”
Added Janacaro: “Our line really just picked it up, and we wanted to establish the run game more in the second half. You get tired of taking hits. It motivates you to break a long one.”
Flathead quarterback Taylor Morton finished 16-of-32 passing for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He and Austin Demars ran for one touchdown each.
Janacaro picked up his first big gain of the day on a 39-yard run on first and 10 from the 4-yard line. The Eagles completed the 96-yard drive with a 9-yard Janacaro touchdown run that turned the game around, putting Big Sky up 19-7.
On the previous drive, Flathead had appeared to score a touchdown that would’ve given the Braves their first lead of the game on their first drive of the second half. However, a holding penalty negated the score, and Flathead was called for a total of four penalties on the drive before being forced to punt.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Flathead coach Kyle Samson said. “That was a big momentum shift.”
After Flathead cut the deficit to 19-13 late in the third quarter, Janacaro busted loose on a 47-yard touchdown run by breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage.
Flathead pulled within 27-20 with 2:29 left on a 27-yard pass from Morton to Anthony Jones. The 72-yard drive came right after Big Sky appeared to put the game away with a touchdown but was called for a penalty and ended up coming up empty.
Big Sky recovered the onside kick, and Janacaro scored to close the game.