BILLINGS — It was a historic day at Herb Klindt Field as Carroll College held off the hometown Rocky Mountain College Battlin' Bears for a 14-12 win on the first Saturday of the Frontier Conference's first-ever spring football season.
“When we went rolling in here, we went, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s actually going to happen,'" said Saints head coach Troy Purcell. "Until we were here, until we were here this day, you just never know if the rug is going to get pulled out from under you or not."
After having their fall 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, five of the Frontier's eight schools will play four-game spring schedules. Montana Western, Montana Tech and Southern Oregon all opted out of competition until fall 2021.
Carroll jumped out to a 14-2 halftime lead Saturday thanks to two Rocky turnovers. Battlin' Bears starting quarterback Nate Dick suffered a non-contact injury to his right foot in the opening half and would not return.
With Drew Korf at the helm, Rocky took two drives into the red zone in the first eight minutes of the third quarter but only managed three points to cut the deficit to 14-5 going into the fourth.
Carroll looked like it would extend the lead midway through the quarter, but on third down from inside Rocky's 10, Adam Ames sacked Devan Bridgewater for a 20-yard loss, taking the Saints out of field goal range. Bridgewater would pooch punt it down to the 2-yard line, but two plays later, Korf hit Donovan Sellgren in stride for a 95-yard touchdown to pull the Bears within 14-12 with just over seven minutes to play.
Rocky would get the ball two more times but was forced to punt on both drives. Carroll was then able to run out the clock after a key third-down conversion with under two minutes to play.
"We’ll learn and we’ll get better from this, but I think the kids did a great job of staying the course -- just staying the course, staying the course," Purcell said. "Never too high, never too low, just staying the course, staying the course, and finding a way to win.”
Carroll (1-0) travels to Eastern Oregon next, while Rocky (0-1) heads to the College of Idaho.