Editor’s Note: Carroll College Sports Information Press Release
Helena -For a second, the Saints looked to have seized a late lead against the Montana Western Bulldogs.
Then, the ball squirted free.
The Montana Western Bulldogs hung on for a 16-10 win over the Carroll College Saints on Saturday at Nelson Stadium in the Saints home opener. The Saints held two leads in the game, but each time the Bulldogs regained control.
Saints coach Mike Van Diest felt his team had ample opportunities and favorable field positioning, but couldn’t capitalize.
“We had field position in the third quarter and we really didn’t take advantage of it,” Van Diest said. “When we got the lead 10-9 that was great, but the thing that I think that made the difference in the game was we didn’t get any turnovers.”
The Saints fumbled on their opening possession and the Bulldogs took advantage. Western put together an 11-play drive that was capped off by a Kyler Prante touchdown run from one yard out. The Bulldogs would miss the extra point.
Each defense stiffened until the final two minutes of the second quarter. Carroll scored its first touchdown of the season when Major Ali, who rushed 18 times for a team-high 59 yards ran off the left side for a 13-yard touchdown. Hitting the PAT, the Saints grabbed a 7-6 lead.
Western responded by marching down the field with big pass plays before eventually settling for a last second chip shot field goal to take a 9-7 lead into halftime.
“The drive before the half when they got the field goal was really the backbreaker,” Van Diest said. “The scores before the half come back to haunt you and that one did.”
The Saints had their chances in the third quarter, but could only manage a Josh Kraft 26-yard field goal to take a 10-9 lead.
That lead held until Western quarterback Jon Jund scored on a keeper from one yard out to give Western a 16-10 lead.
The Saints looked to a least tie the game with a few minutes left. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kolby Killoy — who made his first start after Reese Hiibel was sidelined with an injury this week — rolled to his right and fired a pass to the 6-foot-6 tight end Sam Stratton.
Stratton grasped the ball momentarily before it popped out and became an interception.
Carroll linebacker Reece Quade, who finished the game with a sack nearly made a highlight-reel, athletic interception to put the Saints right back in business, but his dive for an errant Bulldogs pass came up empty. It was just one of several missed opportunities to create a turnover for the Saints.
“I think Western is pretty sound on their ball control,” Quade said at a press conference afterward. “There are plays we could have made where we didn’t capture the ball. We weren’t stripping the ball. We need more discipline on our turnover attitude on defense.”
Carroll generated 287 yards of offense while Western had 288.
Western came away with two late interceptions and an early fumble that gave the Bulldogs the edge they needed.
Van Diest wasn’t one to offer consolation afterwards, though the Saints’ offense under Killoy showed improvement from a Week One shutout. Killoy felt the Saints have momentum going into next week’s matchup against NCAA D-III Linfield.
“I felt like there were a lot more ups for me than there were downs, but I definitely need to work on the downs,” said Killoy, who went 13-of-21 for 152 yards with two interceptions in his first career start.
Carroll hosts Linfield next Saturday.