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BUTTE — The Hamilton Broncs (1-0) defeated Butte Central (1-0) Friday night in an offensive duel at Bob Green Field that ended 49-26. The Class A state runners-up shook off a shaky start to distance themselves from the Maroons, but not without plenty of scoring between the two sides.

The heart of the offensive battle was between quarterbacks. Hamilton’s Carson Rostad and Central’s Thomas McGree, both seniors, combined for 882 total yards and 9 touchdowns, but it was Rostad’s offensive play in the second half that eventually separated the Broncs.

Central and McGree started strong, opening the scoring on their first drive through a 5-yard touchdown from senior running back Egan Lester. Meanwhile, Hamilton struggled early offensively, which head coach Bryce Carver said was somewhat expected.

“Each team is trying to figure each other out in the first game, and we knew that,” Carver said. “You don’t get film on your first opponent, but I thought we responded well. Central is much, much improved from last year, and they fought until the end.”

After initial setbacks through negative plays and penalties, Rostad and Hamilton broke through at the end of the first quarter, scoring 20 unanswered points to enter halftime with a 20-7 lead. Rostad and Carver both said that Hamilton expects to improve on defense, but that high-scoring contests like these are always enjoyable.

“I love when offenses just go at it,” Rostad said. “I thought the defenses played well enough, but it’s definitely fun to play games like this. And for [McGree], he’s a great quarterback. Quick, smart and hits hard on the defense too. Just a good player.”

McGree finished with 359 passing yards and three touchdowns, two of which found the hands of senior receiver Guido Ossello. For Rostad, the University of Montana commit ended his night with 396 yards through the air, 62 yards on the ground, and six total touchdowns.

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Carver says performances like tonight from the 2018 Montana Gatorade Player of the Year are almost routine at this point.

“It’s honestly just what we expect of [Rostad] at this point,” Carver said. “We expect him to be good. He’s put in the time and he’s type of player. Maybe not at this standard every night, but we expect him to be that good, and he handles that pressure.”

Hamilton maintained their lead in a hectic second half, which saw Central keep their chances alive by scoring at nearly the same rate, with each team scoring three times in the final 25 minutes.

Central head coach Don Peoples also commended Rostad’s play, but was happy with the way that Central kept themselves in the game despite the quality of the opponent’s QB.

“Hamilton’s an outstanding team with an outstanding quarterback,” Peoples said. “Our guys battled them all night. I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. We had some stops tonight and in our conference last year, they put 50-60 points up every night, and they didn’t give up many points. We’re not into moral victories, but our guys fought hard and didn’t quit. I’m proud of this team.”

Hamilton returns home to face Corvallis this Friday, while Central travels to Frenchtown for their second game of the season.

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