Another crazy weekend in the Frontier Conference
Coming into Saturday’s games there were 3 teams that still had a possible shot at a playoff game. College of Idaho, number 13 in the country sitting on top of the conference with 1 loss. Montana Tech at # 20 in the country, and Carroll College #24, both with 2 losses on the year had hope, but they had to win out. Period.
That landscape has changed again, as is the ‘norm’ in the Frontier.
It’s interesting to me that most of my memories of Tech-Western football, all seem to have significant appearances by Mother Nature. In Saturday’s game, she will certainly have a by-line credit.
I didn’t think either team had any shot at getting the passing game going, but Western had a different idea on their first drive. Jon Jund led to Dogs on a 5-play 75-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard bomb to Isiah Thomas.
After that initial drive, neither team could muster any significant offensive momentum. Both teams were able to get constant pressure on the quarterback resulting in several sacks on each side of the ball and hurried passes, in far-from-ideal conditions. I felt the first drive from Western was big, the other series I felt was huge came in the 4th quarter. Western ran a 14-play, 68 yards series, that ended in a field goal. The big part of that drive was the time of possession, they kept the ball out of Tech’s offenses’ hands for 8:55. At the end of 60 minutes, Western gets the win in Butte, 27-21 to get the season split with the Diggs.
For Western, Jon Jund finished with 124 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Reese Neville had a big game with 160 yards, averaging over 7 yards a carry.
For the Orediggers, Blake Thelen threw for 228 yards and 1 touchdown, he was intercepted twice. Kaleb Winterburn rushed for 101 yards and 1 touchdown for Montana Tech. Kyle Torgerson had a big day for the Diggs, finishing with 8 catches for 137 yards.
Rocky at MSU Northern- The High wind warning that was in effect for most of Montana, was a significant factor in Havre. There were warnings for 40-60 mph winds, and I was told the wind exceeded the 60mph mark several times in this game. The final numbers show a total of 24 passing attempts in this game. Rocky started Freshman Trent Nobach at quarterback, their 3rd different starter this year.
With only 24 total passing attempts, (3 of those intercepted, combined) the rest of the game was pounding the rock. Rocky finished with 234 yards and one touchdown on 66 rushing attempts. Northern finished with 30 rushes for 79 yards. In ugly conditions, Rocky wins it 9-0, to go to 6-3 in the Frontier standings.
The College of Idaho was on the road to LaGrande, Oregon to take on the Mountaineers of Eastern Oregon for the second time this year. Much like the first matchup the Yotes made easy work of it, winning 41-7. The College of Idaho had 10 different receivers with catches, QB Andy Peters was efficient in the win, going 18-24 for 155 yards and a score. College of Idaho also had 8 different guys credited with carries, rushing for 172 yards as a team, led by Allamar Alexander with 89 on the ground. With the win, the Yotes hold on to the #1 spot in the Frontier, and they will prepare for a huge game this coming week with Carroll College.
Coming into the final two weeks of the conference season, the hardest road to 2-0 was being driven by Carroll College, with road games at Southern Oregon, and the College of Idaho. The Saints were able to check the first box with a 24-17 win at SOU. It’s the Saints first win in Ashland in 20 years.
Carroll ran 74 offensive plays for 429 yards of offense on the road. Prka threw for 238 and a score, Burgess runs for 129, and a pair of touchdowns. Southern got 2 touchdown passes from Blake Asciutto, but was unable to get any kind of running game established with 40 total rushing yards on 20 attempts. With the win Carroll now sits in second place in conference by themselves and controls their postseason future.
So that sets up this weekend. #1 College of Idaho hosting #2 Carroll College. If the Yotes win they win the Frontier outright. If Carroll wins we have a tie for the Frontier crown, and then the national ranking would come into effect for who would be our representative in the playoffs. The NAIA states that a conference champ gets an automatic big IF they are in the Top 20 nationally. So, if Carroll wins we would have to wait for the national poll to see who is ranked higher, and the highest would go, the other team would have a chance to go as well…. But a REALLY thin chance.
Here are the standings heading into the final weekend.
College of Idaho 8-1
Montana Tech 6-3
Rocky Mountain 6-3
UM Western 5-4
Southern Oregon 3-6
Eastern Oregon 1-8
MSU Northern 0-9
Final weekend of Frontier play:
Carroll @ College of Idaho
Montana Tech @ MSU Northern
UM Western @ Rocky
Eastern Oregon @ Southern Oregon
Our thanks to Brianna O'Mara for allowing us to use her outstanding photography, you can view her work on her Facebook page HERE