HELENA -- In one of the Frontier Conference's premier rivalry football games, the Carroll College Fighting Saints downed the 17th-ranked Montana Tech Orediggers by a final score of 30-19 Saturday at Nelson Stadium.
"It's pretty special, especially because it's Senior Day," said head coach Troy Purcell. "Seeing the smile, especially from the families and everybody, that's the fun part."
The first quarter was a defensive slog, with both teams trading possessions without scoring until the Saints broke through on a Devan Bridgewater floater to Sam Stratton for his first career touchdown and the 7-0 lead.
Montana Tech responded later in the first half as Jet Campbell ran it in for the 9-yard score to give the Orediggers a chance to tie up the game with a little more than three minutes left in the first half, but Garrett Kocab had other ideas.
Kocab blocked the point-after attempt and Isazah King picked up the ball on the run and didn't stop until he found the end zone on the opposite end of the field to put the Fighting Saints up 9-6.
"On those plays you just have to go full speed, and I really give it to Cole Greff for pulling that guy away so I could get there. Without him, I don't know if I could block those," said Kocab after the game.
Carroll College wasted little time extending that first-half lead when Bridgewater connected with Shane Sipes for a 56-yard score that would put Carroll College up by 10 points headed into the half.
"What a turning point - what a turning point," said Purcell while hammering the desk during the press conference. "All of a sudden they had the momentum. Bam! We have the momentum right back."
Though Carroll College held the momentum headed into the locker room, Montana Tech rebounded in the second half to take the lead. Blake Counts punched it in on a quarterback keeper to get the Orediggers down by less than a touchdown, and Jet Campell found Trevor Hoffman on a short pass to make it 19-16 after the Saints blocked another point-after attempt.
Carroll College rebounded and scored 14 unanswered points on two scores by Matthew Burgess -- the first by land on a 1-yard draw play that gave Carroll a 23-19 lead and the second through the air on a short pass by Bridgewater to give them the 30-19 lead that would eventually seal the deal.
The win for the Fighting Saints puts them in a three-way tie for second in the Frontier Conference with Montana Tech and Montana Western, with all three teams sitting at 6-3 on the season with only one week left to play.
With Carroll making the trip to Eastern Oregon, Montana Tech hosting Rocky Mountain College, and Montana Western hosting Southern Oregon to close out the regular season, it could be a crowded second-place spot in the Frontier Conference standings when the season wraps up on Nov. 16.