HELENA -- The Carroll College Fighting Saints brought everything they could en route to a 54-26 Frontier Conference football victory over the Montana State-Northern Lights on Saturday.
"We're just having some fun out there," said head coach Troy Purcell with a grin on his face after the game. "They're believing in what we're doing, they're getting some confidence in what we're doing, and they're excited about what we're doing."
Carroll College immediately went on the attack, and inside the first five minutes of the game Devan Bridgewater connected with Shane Sipes for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Montana State-Northern took its first possession and drove the ball into Carroll territory, but an overthrown pass on fourth down by Brenden Medina quashed the Lights' momentum and Carroll took advantage.
The Saints flew around for two more first-half touchdowns to give themselves a three-score lead, but a miscue provided the Lights with a spark. On an MSU-Northern punt late in the first half, Jaden Harrison elected not to call for a fair catch, all while Lights defenders were descending upon him. Titus Pulliam leveled Harrison and forced a fumble that Northern recovered and used as fuel to score its first touchdown of the game on a pass from Medina to Marvin Williams Jr. to put the score at 20-6.
The Lights' defense stalled the Saints on the ensuing drive, forcing a 32-yard field goal by Josh Kraft to make it 23-6 with three minutes left in the first half. The Lights played a perfect two-minute drill and drove the length of the field to cash in on another Medina-to-Williams Jr. connection to make the score 23-13 at the half.
Medina finished the game completing 25 of his 41 attempts for 389 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Carroll College defense may have left holes open in the secondary, but it refused to let MSU-Northern attack them on the ground, only giving up 49 yards on 21 rushing attempts.
"(Defensive coordinator Pat Haynes) wants to stop the run and make them put the ball in the air. Gives us a chance to create turnovers," said junior linebacker Nate McGree.
On the flip side, Carroll College only threw for 173 yards but ran for 307 and accounted for four touchdowns between Matthew Burgess, Kaleb Adams, Griphen Le, and Major Ali.
In the second half, the Saints came out fired up and refused to take failure as an option and scored 31 points in an effort to distance the game further out of reach.
The Lights came up with two second-half touchdowns, but by then the game was out of reach and in Carroll's pocket with a final score of 54-26.
Now the Carroll College Fighting Saints will make their way to Ashland, Oregon to take on Southern Oregon, and Montana State-Northern will host the Montana Tech Orediggers.