By Acra Samuels EBS Contributor

BIG SKY/SAVAGE, Mont. – Lone Peak High School hosted its second playoff football game in program history on Halloween day. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon the Big Horns took on the Bridger Scouts, seeded third in the Class C six-man Southern Conference. The second-seeded Big Horns finished the Class C six-man Western Conference’s regular season in second place.

The Big Horns wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as junior quarterback Eddie Starz hit senior Chase Samuels with a touchdown pass from 4 yards out, and freshman Milosz Shipman converted the two-point kick for an 8-0 LPHS lead with 4:15 left in the first quarter.

LPHS junior Devin Quinn elevates for a catch during the Big Horns’ first round playoff win over the Bridger Scouts on Oct. 31.

After the Scouts retaliated with a score of their own and one-point conversion, Starz struck again. This time he hit junior Devin Quinn from 42 yards out, and after Shipman’s kick the Big Horns led 16-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Bridger scored early in the second quarter but did not convert on the point after and the score stood at 16-13. Then the Big Horns really got going. Starz threw second quarter touchdown passes of 40 yards to Quinn and 42 yards to Chase Samuels.

Then Starz ran for a 14-yard score and later caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from sophomore all-purpose back Holden Samuels. The home team gained more breathing room when Holden Samuels plunged into the end zone from 2 yards out with 25 seconds left in the first half, and the Big Horns were up 44-19.

Then came the nail in the coffin. The Scouts’ quarterback dropped back to pass, but Chase Samuels hit him as he released the ball. LPHS junior Bridger Babcock intercepted the ball and scampered 45 yards for a touchdown as time expired. After another Shipman two-point kick, the Big Horns led 52-19 at halftime.

In the second half, the Big Horns continued their offensive explosion. Holden Samuels threw a touchdown pass to Starz, Quinn intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, and Babcock ripped off two scoring runs of 45 yards each. Shipman converted on 8-of-11 points after touchdown kicks, scoring 16 points. The Big Horns won the game, 82-32.

After their first round playoff victory, LPHS earned the right to travel on Nov. 7 to Savage, Mont., to take on the Warriors in the quarterfinals of the Class C playoffs. This was the second straight season the Big Horns drew an undefeated Savage team in the second round, and it was the second year in a row LPHS came home disappointed after facing the top team from the Eastern Conference.

The Warriors struck first. After being stuffed on the first two running plays, they went to the air for a 65-yard touchdown pass and hit the points after touchdown kick for an 8-0 lead. The Big Horns responded by driving the length of the field, taking the ball inside the 5-yard-line. Then the wheels came off.

Babcock went out with a leg injury and would not return, and the Big Horns were stopped on fourth down before the Warriors drove down and scored. Savage was leading 13-0 at the end of a tightly played first quarter. But the Big Horns never found any rhythm and ultimately fell to Savage 67-0.

Despite the second-round playoff loss, the LPHS Big Horns, led by head coach Matt Bakken, went 7-3 on the season and 6-1 in conference play. The team will miss senior captain and four-year letterman Chase Samuels next season, as well as senior Hugo Boman. But the Big Horns will be loaded for the 2016 campaign, returning five starters on each side of the ball.