MISSOULA -- The Manhattan football program had never won a game at Missoula Loyola's Rollin Field. That changed on Friday night.
Lane Veltkamp threw for a touchdown, rushed for another and had a key interception in the final minutes as No. 4 Manhattan used a big first half to defeat No. 3 Missoula Loyola 26-14.
"Going into this week we had to prepare because this was one of our biggest games of the regular season," said Veltkamp, "and all week we prepared really well and came out firing in the first quarter. ... That was a great way to start the game."
Veltkamp and the Tigers jumped on the Rams from the opening drive, with Garrit Weeda bursting for a big gain on the second play of the game. The senior running back burst across the goal line on a fourth-and-goal play to put the Tigers ahead 7-0 after the opening quarter. His 29-yard touchdown, which saw him shake multiple Loyola defenders, put Manhattan ahead 14-0 with 9:46 remaining in the half.
Weeda also added an interception in the quarter, though it didn't lead to points for the Tigers.
Manhattan's defense stymied the Loyola offense, forcing punts on three drives and interceptions on two others. Toby Veltkamp read a Nick Mitzel-pass play perfectly, stepping in front and returning the ball inside the red zone. Lane Veltkamp tossed a jump ball to receiver Gabriel Delgatty a few plays later, extending the lead to 20-0 at halftime.
"That first half, we did everything we could. They came out and scored a lot in the second half, so without our first half it could have been a tough ball game," said Lane Veltkamp. "I'm glad for the way we fought through that and got the win."
Loyola's struggles continued in the second half, with a third-quarter touchdown called back following a hands to the face penalty. Lane Veltkamp scampered 59 yards for a score with 3:26 left in the period to give Manhattan a 26-0 cushion. But Loyola scored twice in the second half, with Mitzel finding Bryce Danielson at the end of the third quarter for a 15-yard score, then Mitzel completed a fourth-down pass to Basil Coutinho to bring the Rams to within 26-14 with 10:06 remaining.
But Manhattan's defense rose to the occasion twice in the final minutes, with Josh Dyk sacking Mitzel on a key fourth down play with under five minutes remaining. Lane Veltkamp's interception sealed the win for the Tigers (3-0) who return to Southern B conference play at Whitehall next weekend.
"It's huge. We already have one win in conference and now we have a few more games, and hopefully we can get up for them," said Veltkamp. "This was just a great statement game to get out there, everybody is coming for us now."
"I think (this team is a state title contender). We've gone to the second round the last four or five years, and this is the year we can put it past that and go to the championship," he added.
Loyola (2-2) hosts Bigfork next Friday.
Class B football scores
(Watch video highlights above)
Columbus 32, Three Forks 0
Florence 31, Bigfork 0
Eureka 63, Anaconda 6
Fairfield 48, Conrad 19
Fort Benton 60, Chinook 14
Glasgow 46, Cut Bank 0
Huntley Project 41, Colstrip 2
Jefferson 25, Big Timber 0
Manhattan 26, Missoula Loyola 14
Red Lodge 41, Baker 6
Roundup 54, Harlem 16
Townsend 6, Whitehall 0