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Rushing attack, late stand lift No. 15 Carroll College over No. 16 Montana Tech

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Posted at 9:52 PM, Aug 31, 2023

BUTTE — Montana Tech running back Blake Counts had just ripped off a 39-yard rushing touchdown to bring his team within two points of a Carroll College squad that seemed to have the game in hand after a critical fumble recovery earlier in the fourth quarter.

The Saints needed a stand, and they got one.

Carroll's defense brought down Counts just shy of the goal line on the ensuing two-point conversion run and the Saints then picked up enough first downs to drain the clock and preserve a 21-19 victory at Bob Green Field in Tech's annual Copper Game on Thursday evening.

The win by the No. 15 Saints over the No. 16 Orediggers will actually go down as a non-conference victory for Carroll this season. The two teams will meet again in the season finale in Helena with that game counting toward the Frontier standings.

All three of Carroll's scores came on rushing touchdowns, with the first two coming on the Saints first two drives. Cormac Benn scored on a 1-yard sweep on the opening possession to cap off a nine-play, 77-yard drive.

Duncan Kraft then scored on a 2-yard run on the second play of the second quarter to put Carroll up 14-0.

Tech scored five minutes later on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Blake Thelen to Wyatt Alexander and then tacked on a 26-yard field goal from Ryan Lowry to cut Carroll's lead to 14-10 just before halftime.

Lowry added a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 14-13. Carroll then added its third and final score on a 9-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Jack Prka on the second play of the fourth quarter to go up 21-13.

The Saints recovered a Tech fumble on the Orediggers' next drive. But Tech forced a three-and-out, setting the stage for Counts' late touchdown run and a tying two-point conversion attempt that came up short.

Carroll, which didn't commit a turnover, finished the game with 157 rushing yard to Tech's 115 while the Orediggers outgained the Saints with 255 passing yards to 160.

Montana Tech travels to Division II Central Washington next Saturday and Carroll will host No. 14 St. Thomas (Fla.).