HELENA — Saturday was a historic day at Carroll College.
Not only did the Saints defeat NCAA Division III opponent Linfield 21-14, but the win was also head coach Mike Van Diest’s 200th in his legendary career.
“I don’t look at it. I’ve been around long enough, something should fall into place,” Van Diest said after the game. “We’ve had some great teams here. I remember win No. 1, and that was the most important win in our program, was the first time we beat a top five-ranked team in (Rocky Mountain College) that year, our very first game in (1999). What’s great is that (offensive coordinator) Nick Howlett has been along every single one of those, and Beaugh Meyer, I told him, I think he’s been around for 100 of them. He’s been here longer than all the players. Every win is special and every win is different. It’s a number, not something I set out to do, it’s not why I came back to coach. I came back to coach these seniors. I wanted to be around these guys because I love Drew Melton, McBride Galt, Troy Arntson and Connor McGree and Ryan Beaulieu and all these guys, Reece Quade. Every one of these seniors is a great guy and that’s what, that makes it special.”
Carroll running back Major Ali broke the ice in the first quarter against Linfield, running in the first touchdown of the game and putting the Saints up 7-0. He would do it again in the third quarter to give the home team a 14-0 lead. Linfield would change that, answering with a Wyatt Smith touchdown pass to Dawson Ruhl to make it 14-7.
In the fourth quarter the Wildcats would take a play out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning playbook and Mana Kupihea would pass it to quarterback Smith for a touchdown and tie the game at 14-14. But with under two minutes to play in the game, Carroll’s Beaulieu would come down with a game-saving interception, leading to a wide-open Joe Farris catching a touchdown pass rom Kolby Killoy to give the Saints the victory.
Carroll College, which improved to 2-1 with the win, travels to MSU-Northern next Saturday.