HELENA — In a game that saw more first-half interceptions than points and over 250 total penalty yards, the No. 13 Eastern Oregon Mountaineers took down the Carroll College Fighting Saints, 10-7.
Though the Fighting Saints defense was able to force a fumble and return it for a touchdown, a struggle of an offensive effort was ultimately the downfall for Carroll on Saturday.
The first half between the Fighting Saints and Mountaineers was littered with stout defensive play with six total sacks between the two squads, two Carroll College interceptions on passes from Kai Quinn, and just over 230 yards of offense combined. However, between the two schools, there were also over 90 yards of penalties in the first and nearly 290 through the entirety of the game.
The Fighting Saints held Eastern Oregon to just 29 yards on 34 rushing attempts on Saturday for an average of .9 yards per rush.
The Fighting Saints had an opportunity to get on the board midway through the second quarter after a Micah Ans interception. The Fighting Saints took nine plays to drive 20 yards before settling on a field goal attempt that came up short. However, just one play later, TJ Abraham was able to snare a Quinn pass, but both offenses scuttled to a stop to end the first half.
"They played with a lot of heart, they played with a lot of passion. You know, it's another shutout which is what I expected, right?" said Eastern Oregon head coach Tim Camp about his defense. "But at the same time, we got to be better as a team."
The Mountaineers were able to record seven total sacks for 51 yards of loss, while Carroll was able to get four sacks for 24 yards of loss.
The Fighting Saints were the first team to get the ball out of the half, but a long gain wiped out by a penalty and a Devan Bridgewater interception led the Mountaineers to earn the only offensive touchdown of the day on a 13-yard pass from Quinn to Isaiah Thomas to make it 7-0 early. The Mountaineers were able to add to their lead on their very next drive as Zachary Cahill was able to drill a 30-yard field goal to put Eastern Oregon up 10-0 in the third quarter.
The Fighting Saints needing a spark late in the game, got on the Mountaineers opening drive of the fourth quarter as Tucker Jones was able sack Quinn and force a fumble that Austin Bedke was able to scoop and score to bring it to 10-7 with just under 10 minutes left to play.
Both teams traded another possession before Carroll would get one last shot to try and take the lead. Starting on their own 20-yard-line, the Fighting Saints were able to get three first downs (two on penalties) and get into Eastern Oregon territory before Moses McAninch and Gabriel Shukle ended the Fighting Saints' dreams by sacking Bridgewater on fourth and eight to turn the ball over.
With the win, the Mountaineers move to 3-0 and will potentially see a boost in the newest NAIA polls on Sept. 20th, with the loss Carrol falls to 1-2 and will look to even their record next Saturday when they head to Ashland to take on Southern Oregon University.