BILLINGS — Nathan Dick made his long-awaited return in style, throwing three touchdown passes to help Rocky Mountain College to a 42-28 win over Southern Oregon in the season opener on Saturday night in Billings at Herb Klindt Field.
For Dick, who has battled injuries throughout his college career, the moment was overdue.
"I'm excited to celebrate with the guys. I'm a little excited to just be around them, to be honest with you," Dick told MTN sports. "It's a little different when you're hurt. They're kind of talking about the game and you're kind of like, 'Yeah, yeah. I remember that play,' but you're not really out there. That's kind of a tough thing, but I'm just so excited to go celebrate with this team. They work extremely hard all summer and had a great fall camp, to come out with a win Week 1 is just huge for us."
Rocky's first points of the season came via safety when Southern Oregon snapped the ball between its punter's legs and into the end zone. The Battlin' Bears then scored on a Riley Garrett field goal to grab a 5-0 lead in the first quarter.
Southern Oregon found itself pinned on its own 2-yard line when Matt Struck found Sawyer Cleveland for 96 yards, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Trent Banner to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead.
And then Dick took over the rest of the first half.
Dick's first touchdown pass of the night was to a wide open Carter Garsjo, as Dick sucked the corners up on an RPO. Touchdown No. 2 was his easiest of the day, finding Trae Henry wide open on a crossing route for a 66-yard touchdown to push the lead to 19-7.
Again Southern Oregon had troubles on the snap resulting in its second safety of the game, then Dick's third touchdown pass of the game, this one a jump ball to Lucas Overton, gave Rocky a 28-7 lead. Southern Oregon would block a punt and score just before halftime, but two quick Rocky touchdowns in the third quarter put the game away.
"When Rocky has more points than the other guys, you know it's going to be a good sore," Dick said of his first game action since March of 2021, when he played only the opening game of the spring season. "Our defense played extremely well (Saturday). ... A lot of the work around here that gets put in behind the scenes, some of it's starting to blossom a little bit and it's really nice to see."
Rocky will play at College of Idaho on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 1 p.m.