DILLON — With the game on the line, Dillon went for the win.
Kee Christiansen made sure it was the right call, finding the left pylon on a two-point conversion run to help the Beavers to a 36-35 overtime win over Columbia Falls in the Class A state football championship Saturday.
The Beavers, hosting the game as the West's top seed, got everything they could handle from fourth-seeded Columbia Falls, which advanced to the title game with upset wins over Billings Central and Corvallis in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the playoffs. The Wildcats rallied from a 28-14 deficit to force overtime and then took a 35-28 lead on the first overtime possession.
But Dillon was undefeated for a reason this season. On its overtime possession, Kale Konen quickly found the end zone to make the score 35-34. The Beavers lined up for the two-point conversion attempt to go for the win, and a Columbia Falls penalty put the ball a little closer to the goal line. From there, Christiansen's run sent the Dillon faithful into a frenzied celebration.
The dramatic ending overshadowed an entertaining championship game throughout regulation. Columbia Falls took an early lead when Cody Schweikert found Lane Hoerner for a 6-yard touchdown. Dillon answered later in the period. The Beavers recovered a Wildcats fumble, then hit a big play on a well-executed flea flicker to set up Konen for a 29-yard touchdown run.
Christiansen gave Dillon its first lead in the second quarter on a 1-yard run, but Schweikert threw a TD pass to Mark Robison to send the game to halftime tied at 14.
Dillon seemingly took control in the third quarter, with Konen scoring on the first play of the second half on an 80-yard run. Christiansen then hooked up with Max Davis on a 27-yard touchdown to extend Dillon's advantage to 28-14 going to the fourth.
Schweikert, though, brought the Wildcats back, throwing two touchdowns — including one with 45 seconds left — to tie the game and force overtime. Schweikert then ran in a touchdown for Columbia Falls to start overtime.
But Konen's touchdown and Christiansen's two-point conversion gave the Class A state championship back to Dillon for the first time since 2016 when the Beavers also defeated Columbia Falls for the title.
Dillon, which finished the 2023 season with an 11-0 record, now has five state championships in program history.