BILLINGS – The Montana Tech Orediggers limped onto Herb Klindt Field Saturday having lost four of five games. They left with a 31-27 win over league-leading and 11th-ranked Rocky Mountain College.
Despite the loss, Rocky (8-3) still earned its first Frontier Conference championship since 1999 after Montana Western lost 37-10 at Southern Oregon.
Jed Fike carried the ball a whopping 40 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including one from 66 yards in the first half that drew Tech within 14-10 at halftime.
The third quarter looked a lot like a video. Montana Tech (5-5) took its first lead on the opening drive capped when Fike ran it in from 11 yards.
Rocky responded with 4:04 left in the 3rd when Jacob Bakken hit Max Gray for a 12-yard strike.
Less than two minutes later Fike galloped in from three yards for his third score and a 24-21 Montana Tech lead.
Exactly one minute later Bakken connected with Gray for a 20-yard touchdown.
Trailing 27-24 with under 10 minutes to play Jet Campbell fired a 12-yard pass to Will Hunthausen for a 31-27 lead the Diggers would never give back.
As league champion, Rocky earns the Frontier Conference’s automatic bid to this year’s NAIA playoffs unless the Bears drop outside of the coaches’ Top 20. Then there’s no guarantee. Only 16 teams are invited to the post-season. The NAIA announces its playoff bracket on Sunday.