By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
It didn't take long for the top-ranked Carroll College Saints to run all over the Montana State University-Northern football team's home debut.
The Saints ran over, ran past and ran through the Northern defense, racking up 378 yards on the ground en route to a 65-3 win Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium.
"We had to start running the football more effectively," said Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest. "We were disappointed how we ran the football against Central Washington."
Tailbacks Ryan Grosulak and Jed Thomas led the ground onslaught, rushing for 157 yards and 109 yards, respectively.
"It's not very fancy to run the football," Van Diest said. "Everyone has to block and do their job and we were able to do that. I thought Jed and Ryan read their blocks well."
Indeed, the Saints rushed the ball early and often, attempting just a handful of passes in the first quarter.
Carroll (2-0) got on the scoreboard on its second possession as Thomas broke off a 52-yard touchdown run to give the Saints an early 7-0 lead.
Northern (0-2) scored its first points of the season on the ensuing possession. The Lights put together a lengthy drive, highlighted by a Don Saisbury 33-yard run, which led to a 28-yard field goal from Chris Nagel.
Carroll answered immediately with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, punctuated by a 2-yard touchdown plunge from Grosulak.
The Saints would never trail again, ripping off 34 points in the second quarter and putting the game out of reach early.
"We did some positive things early on," said Northern head coach Mark Samson. "But we made some mistakes and turned the ball over, and it just kind of snowballed from there."
The Saints rolled up 28 first downs and punted just twice in the game, while still gaining 576 total yards of offense.
Grosulak, the Saints' second-string tailback, finished the day with three rushing touchdowns. Thomas hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Emmert early in the first half.
"The score allowed us to do some things that maybe we couldn't do normally," Van Diest said. "We were able to get Jed and Ryan a lot of carries and get some of our younger kids into the game."
Emmert played sparingly, never entering the game in the second half. He attempted just 10 passes, completing seven for 74 yards.
His backup, redshirt freshman John Barnett, had a solid day, totaling 118 yards passing, including a 18-yard scoring strike to Kevin McCutcheon. Barnett was also efficient on the ground, rushing for 98 yards and three touchdowns.
The win gave Carroll its 11th consecutive win over the Lights and their 21st consecutive win - the longest streak at any level in college football. Carroll's last loss came against UM-Western in November 2002.
Northern was led by quarterback Kyle Samson, who rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries. He completed seven of 21 passes for 39 yards. Saisbury netted 57 yards on 17 carries.
But for the most part, Samson and Saisbury were bottled up by a swarming Saints defense.
"What it comes down to is gang tackling and everyone running to the football," said senior linebacker and former Chinook standout Michael Maddox. "Our tackling was much better this week. With Kyle in the backfield, we did a lot of tackling drills this week to prepare. He hurt us in the first couple of series. We just had to tackle better."
The Lights totaled 156 yards on offense and showed flashes of consistency. However, turnovers killed several opportunities. A pair of fumbles and an interception led directly to Carroll scores and ended any Northern momentum.
"We're still not doing the little things," Mark Samson said. "We're not good enough man for man to not do the little things."
Defensively, true freshman Marc Samson led the Lights with 14 tackles, while linebacker Joe Tusick added 12.
Carroll will travel to Dillon to face UM-Western next weekend, and Northern will head to Butte to take on Montana Tech.
Carroll 7 34 10 14 - 65
MSU-Northern 3 0 0 0 - 3
CC - Jed Thomas 52 run (Thiry kick) 7:26
MSU-N - Nagel 28 field goal 3:53
CC - Ryan Grosulak 2 run (Thiry kick) 13:55
CC - Grosulak 6 run (Thiry kick) 9:58
CC - Thomas 10 pass from Tyler Emmert (kick failed) 9:50
CC - Kevin McCutcheon 47 pass from John Barnett (Thiry kick) 5:35
CC - Barnett 12 run (Thiry kick) 2:08
CC - Barnett 31 run (Thiry kick) 13:33
CC - Thiry 30 field goal 6:50
CC - Grosulak 6 run ( Thiry kick) 8:46
CC- Barnett 22 run (Thiry kick) 2:59
First downs 7 28
Rushing 33-117 51-378
Passing 7-22-1 16-23-0
Passing yards 37 187
Total yards 156 567
Penalties 5-40 3-29
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Return yards 30 138
Tine of Pos. 23:22 29:00
Sacks 0-0 0-0
Rushing: MSU-N - Kyle Samson 13-71; Don Saisbury 17-57; Cody Nickel 1-11; Todd Nelson 1-5; Adrian Largent 1-4. Carroll - Grosulak 26-133; Thomas 12-109; Barnett 7-98; Bugas 2-11; Bowman 2-0.
Passing: MSU-N - Kyle Samson 7-21-1 39; Clint Herrera 0-1-0 0. Carroll - Barnett 9-13-0 133; Emmert 7-10-0 74.
Receiving: MSU-N - Nick Arnold 2-18; Dan Wirtzberger 2-17; Todd Nelson 2-2; Jeff Brandon 1-2. Carroll - Thomas 5-68; McCutcheon 3-70; Bumgarner 3-19; Michaelis 2-10; Doak 1-8; Selle 1-7; Donovan 1-5.