HAMILTON — There was always going to be an elephant in the room — and on the field at Hamilton Athletic Complex Friday night when rivals Hamilton and Corvallis met. It marked the first time Hamilton wide receiver Mason Murray and defensive back Rory Jessop would play their former team after transferring schools last year.
Murray, though, said his focus was on his team and getting a win, not any outside story line. It showed.
Murray scored the game's first touchdown — a 34-yard reception from all-state quarterback and Griz recruit Carson Rostad — part of a two touchdown day for the senior as Hamilton topped its rival, 47-7.
Murray was first in line for the Broncs' postgame handshake with Corvallis.
"I didn't really think about (the matchup) this week, I just wanted to go out and play," Murray said. "I have great teammates here, they really lifted me up and just brought me in.
"We're a good team. We're not a bunch of individuals. We worked together."
Together Hamilton had a heckuva game.
The Broncs scored on their first five possessions of the game to take a 33-0 lead into the half. Along with Murray's touchdown, Jaiden Klemundt, a junior wide receiver who transferred from Loyola Sacred Heart, added a receiving touchdown to put bookends on the first-half scoring. A steady rain that let up at the break didn't seem to slow Hamilton down.
Rostad ran in the second touchdown of the game to give the Broncs a 13-0 lead, and Montana's reigning Gatorade Player of the Year had his hand in five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in the game. Rostad's other scoring toss went to Tucker Jones with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter, putting Hamilton ahead 19-0.
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Hamilton running back Landon Duce had every Bronc touchdown that wasn't otherwise orchestrated by Rostad. The senior finished with nearly 200 yards on the ground, according to coach Bryce Carver, and two touchdowns. His final time reaching pay durt answered Corvallis' lone scoring drive in the fourth quarter, giving the Broncs a 47-7 advantage late in the game.
"We obviously like to get the ball in the air a little bit, but if we can pound the rock, too, it just makes us a dual threat and makes people think a little more," Carver said. "We just want to be versatile offensively."
The Blue Devils' lone touchdown came on an impressive pitch-and-catch from senior quarterback Jaymark Liedle to sophomore wide out Chase Tucker. The triple-option team went over the top, down the middle of the field for 38 yards and the score.
"It's nice to get these young guys the ball and spread it around a bit. It's a young team and we saw some stuff that was good and some stuff we can build on," said Corvallis coach Clayton Curley, whose squad fell to 1-1. "I just told the kids we want to play to our potential. We're not playing to potential yet, but that's why we play a whole season."
Hamilton, meanwhile, looked in midseason form. Defensively, Jessop had two forced fumbles and a fumble recover in the game as the No. 1-ranked Broncs held Corvallis without a first down through the first quarter.
"...I've been telling them (Jessop and Murray) that, that you guys are Hamilton kids now. They just did an awesome job tonight," coach Carver said. "I was so proud of (Mason) and Rory all week not making it about them. They just talked about it being another game and wanting to come out and compete for us.
"They just wanted to compete and win."
That's what they — the Broncs — did. Hamilton improved to 2-0 overall and in conference headed into a Week 3 matchup against Dillon. The Beavers (1-1) shutout Stevensville, 42-0, Friday. Corvallis, winners against Stevi in Week 1, fell to 1-1 overall and in conference. The Blue Devils take on Frenchtown (2-0, 2-0) next Friday.