BILLINGS – We’re at the halfway point of the Frontier Conference season, and it might be the best race in the country. Rocky Mountain College dominated previously unbeaten Southern Oregon Saturday, and the Battlin’ Bears all of a sudden have title aspirations.
“This finally feels like we’re playing like we’re supposed to,” said defensive end Ryder Rice. “No one respects us, but we respect ourselves, and honestly we feel like we should be here. We feel like we should have won this game.”
The turning point came on the first play of the second quarter. Jacob Bakken hit favorite-target Max Gray on a 34-yard touchdown strike, the pair’s eighth TD connection in the past five games.
“He’s one of our hardest-working wide receivers, and you’ll never be a good team or get more out of your positions until your best players are your hardest workers,” said head coach Jason Petrino. “Max comes out early, gets himself ready mentally. Our quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him.”
“I always tell him, ‘Hey, man, throw me the ball. Throw me the ball. Throw me the ball,'” laughed Gray about his conversations with Bakken. “He has a great arm. The line’s playing great, running backs are playing great. Everything’s just working out right now.”
The offense scored on six consecutive possessions starting with Gray’s catch. That meant Southern Oregon had to abandon the run in comeback mode and allowed the defensive line to rack up seven sacks.
“We always have a little competition on the sideline, rouse each other a little bit to see who’s going to get the next one,” Rice said. “It’s a brotherhood, man. We fight together.”
The celebration was sweet, but the 24-hour rule has come and gone.
“It’s just on to the next game,” said Rice. “We’ve got a whole season left still. This is just one good day.”
Rocky hosts Montana State-Northern next Saturday on Homecoming.