By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Montana State University-Northern head coach Walt Currie isn't a big believer in deja vu, but on Saturday everything that was happening in Northern's 57-3 pasting by Rocky Mountain College in Billings was very familiar - too familiar.
A year ago, Northern came into Billings 0-1, but with plenty of optimism and confidence only to see a passel of turnovers and penalties destroy that optimism and confidence in a 45-7 loss.
"It was almost exactly like a year ago," Currie said.
Indeed, in last year's game Northern grabbed a 7-0 lead on a goal line stand and a 99-yard drive for a touchdown. This year, Rocky fumbled the opening kickoff, which Northern recovered deep in Battlin' Bear territory.
As was the case last week, the Lights could only muster a 29-yard field goal from Chris Nagel, despite the good field position.
On the ensuing possession, Northern seemed to have some momentum as Rocky was faced with a third down and 14, deep in its own territory.
But Rocky quarterback Adam Sanchez found B.J. Charlton on a big play, giving his team a first down and keeping the drive alive. It would culminate six plays later as Sanchez hooked up with Jon Owen from 30 yards out to take the lead.
"It just kind of snowballed from there," Currie said. "If we get a stop on that drive and have some good field position, it would have really given us some confidence."
Instead, Rocky would reel off a total of 57 unanswered points while accumulating 567 yards of total offense.
Currie wasn't exactly pleased whit his team's reaction after the scoring outburst from Rocky.
"Last week, we faced some adversity early and the kids bounced back," he said. "This week we didn't seem to bounce back. When it started to snowball, I think the kids started pressing a little and we started to make some mental mistakes. It's something that happens with young teams."
Those mistakes came in the form of turnovers - five to be exact. Twice, Northern struggled with the snap count in the shotgun formation as a howling wind made communication impossible. Another fumble on a short pass and a pair of interceptions never allowed the Lights to get in any rhythm offensively.
"I don't know what it is about that place, but we always seem to self destruct," Currie said. "We turned the ball over so many times and it just killed us every time."
Three of Northern's turnovers led to Rocky touchdowns while another resulted in a Jeremy Duprey field goal.
Quarterback Neill Crandell finished 20 of 43 for 277 yards passing while throwing a pair of interceptions. Tanner Woodward had a solid game catching six balls for 115 yards.
As for the mistakes, they could have been easily avoided and were the type that tend to happen when games get out of hand, Currie said
"It's a mental thing," he said. "You need to keep your head in the game still and not make those mistakes even when things are getting out of hand."
Northern will try to regroup this week and prepare for homecoming weekend and a very good team in UM-Western.
"It's about pride," Currie said. "We knew there were going to be some growing pains, but nobody likes to be embarrassed. We'll see how they react from this."
Rocky 57, Northern 3
MSU-Northern 3 0 0 0 - 3
Rocky Mountain 10 28 10 9 -57
Montana State-Northern (0-2)
Chris Nagel 29 FG, 11:53-1Q.
Rocky Mountain College (1-1)
Jon Owen 30 pass from Adam Sanchez (Jeremy Duprey kick),
8:25-1Q; Duprey 39 FG,
1:08-1Q; Jade Small 19 fumble return (Duprey kick),
12:30-2Q; Mike Vicars 2 run (Duprey kick),
9:23-2Q; Mike Hanson 15 pass from Sanchez (Duprey kick),
5:10-2Q; Weston Birkeland 15 pass from Sanchez (Duprey kick),
3:50-2Q; Sanchez 8 run (Duprey kick),
14:20-3Q; Duprey 24 FG,
5:26-3Q; Cory Albin 27 pass from Marc Rogers (Duprey kick blocked),
9:24-4Q; Duprey 45 FG, 4:35-4Q.
First downs 17 25
Rushes-yards 31-59 40-159
Passes 21-47-1 22-42-0
Passing yards 287 308
Total offense 346 467
Fumbles-lost 4/4 5/1
Punts 6-28 4-40
Penalties-yards 10-81 8-61
RUSHING - MSU-Northern, Tanner Cochrell 11-38, Ryan Utterback 6-9, Chad Olson 4-23, Neill Crandell 4-(-19), Kyle Elliott 1-0, Colt High 1-5, Jeff Fischer 2-8, Kris Marshall 2-(-2). Rocky Mountain, Adam Sanchez 10-57, Justin Venn 11-37, Mike Vicars 12-30, Rogers 7-35.
PASSING - MSU-Northern, Neill Crandell 20-43-1, 277 yards, Jeff Fischer 1-4-0, 10 yards. Rocky Mountain, Adam Sanchez 20-38-0, 278 yards, Marc Rogers 2-4-0, 30 yards.
RECEIVING - MSU-Northern, Tanner Woodward 6-115, Kris Marshall 2-27, Nick Arnold 5-53, Clint Herrera 4-59, Seth Woodhouse 3-32, Tanner Cochrell 1-1. Rocky Mountain, B.J. Charlton 7-96, Jon Owen 5-71, Mike Hanson 6-82, Justin Venn 1-7, Weston Birkeland 2-25, Cory Albin 1-27.