LAUREL—On a day that Hamilton was trying to win its first state football title in more than two decades, it was fitting that some old-school football was exactly what the Broncs needed.
Consistent 20 mile-per-hour winds didn't allow either Hamilton or defending State A champion Laurel to throw the ball effectively, so Broncs senior quarterback Tyson Rostad scored three touchdowns on the ground while handling almost every single offensive play in a 21-7 win.
"Thinking about having this opportunity that a lot of kids won't have," Rostad said afterward. "Senior year, I was just pumped, knew I had to leave everything on the field and like I said, some of us had nerves going into this game but after that first snap, we just let loose and got the win."
Laurel started the game with the wind in the opening quarter, but the Locomotives were stopped on 4th down inside Hamilton territory on their opening possession. Rostad then took the Broncs down the field and scored from two yards out to give Hamilton a 7-0 lead.
In the 2nd quarter, after the longest pass of the half got Laurel inside the red zone, Montana Grizzlies commit Beau Dantic scored from three yards out to tie the game at 7 with 4:17 to play in the half. But Hamilton would respond quickly. Rostad converted a 4th and 1 on a QB keeper, and shortly after, he took a designed QB draw over the right side and ran 34 yards to put the Broncs back on top 14-7 at the half.
"We've played some really good teams (to get here) and I credit Laurel. They're a really good team and well coached," Hamilton head coach Bryce Carver said. "Our whole motto was, just go get it. We wanted to go get it.
"We were going to play the way we have all year and I think the kids just went out and got the thing."
Laurel again started the second half with the wind advantage, but the Locos couldn't take advantage. Late in the quarter, Kyson Moran's deep ball attempt was picked off by Taylor Searle. Hamilton turned the ensuing possession into an insurance touchdown, as Rostad ran 10 yards over the left side to put the Broncs up 21-7 early in the 4th.
Rostad than iced the game with 5:00 to play, picking off Moran over the middle and falling to the ground in a mix of exhaustion and celebration. Hamilton killed the rest of the clock on offense before dousing Carver with a celebratory ice bucket bath.
"I didn't think that was coming, I didn't see it coming and they got me pretty good," Carver said with a smile. "I'll take it, being cold and wet, rather than being on the other side (of a win)."
Laurel head coach Mike Ludwig credited his players and staff for a terrific season.
"I thought our guys really battled today," he said. "I'm proud of how we played. Hamilton is just a great team with a powerful running game. Rostad was tough to bring down. He just kept pushing forward and battling for extra yards."
The title is Hamilton's first since winning back-to-back state championships in 1997 and '98.
Rostad, who said he hasn't cut his hair since the season started, jokingly chalked up Saturday's win to the good fortune of his long locks.
"We were actually talking about me getting a mullet, but the long hair was doing it, so we might as well keep it going and it worked."