By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
It really doesn't matter what team you are, or what team you are playing. If you turn the ball over six times in a football game, a win is almost impossible.
The Montana Tech Orediggers capitalized on six Montana State University-Northern turnovers in a 61-0 drubbing Saturday at rain-drenched Alumni Coliseum in Butte.
"It's like a broken record with us," said head coach Mark Samson. "You can't win a football game when you turn the ball over six times."
Indeed, for the third straight week, the Lights have been victimized by their own mistakes, coughing up five fumbles that Tech subesequently recovered. Northern quarterback Kyle Samson also tossed an interception. Of the six turnovers, four led to relatively easy scores for Tech.
"We put together a couple of drives, and we're moving the football," Samson said. "Then we turn the ball over. It just snowballed after that. When it falls apart, it really falls apart."
Things started going bad for Northern almost from the start. On the Lights second play from scrimmage, fullback Cody Nickel had the ball knocked loose on a short dive play. Tech's Nathan Prach recovered the ball.
The Orediggers capitalized on the free possession, as Aaron Johnson found Kris Anderson seven plays later from 9 yards out for Tech's first score.
The duo connected on a 36-yard scoring play on Tech's second possession to go up 14-0.
As the slight rain turned into a downpour in the second quarter, the proverbial floodgates opened on the Lights.
Northern coughed up the ball three more times in the first half, all of them leading to Tech touchdowns. Tech got rushing touchdowns from Kevin Dighans, Josh Johnson and Adam Cotton and a field goal from Dan Kleckner. Northern also gave Tech two points as backup quarterback Neill Crandell fell down in the end zone for a safety.
"Anything that could go wrong, pretty much did," Samson said. "The weather played a part, but we need to be better than that."
It got only slightly better for Northern in the second half. Tech needed just one play in the second half to add to its lead, as Johnson broke free for a 35-yard scoring run. He added another 5-yard touchdown run, and Teague Egan added a 1-yard plunge in the quarter.
Northern wasn't without its opportunities to score its first touchdown of the season. The Lights found themselves inside Tech's 20 yard line four times, but came up short on all four possessions.
"Four times and we don't get any points," Samson said with exasperation. "Of course, we didn't try for field goals on any of those times, because I thought we needed to get a touchdown."
The Lights also missed out on a scoring opportunity when Samson scrambled across the field twice and then connected with Nick Arnold on a long pass taking Northern down to Tech's 6-yard line. On the scramble, a Northern lineman was called for being down field, erasing the big gain.
"You know that was a tough play, because the lineman thought Kyle was going to run after the scramble, and he was just hustling down to make some blocks," Samson said.
Even with the help from the Northern turnovers, the Digger offense was still pretty potent, rolling up 494 yards, including 294 yards on the ground, against a banged up Lights' defense.
"We just couldn't get key stops when we needed them," Samson said. "We were starting eight freshmen on defense; there are going to be mistakes."
Northern's offense amassed 190 total yards, most of it coming on the ground. The Lights picked up just 36 yards passing in the game.
Kyle Samson led Northern with 83 yards rushing. Don Saisbury rolled up 66 yards on 14 carries. Arnold caught three passes for 17 yards.
"I've never gone three games without scoring a touchdown in my life," Samson admitted. "We knew there would be growing pains. One thing for certain is that we're not to give up. We're going to keep fighting."
The Lights will be at home this weekend to face Frontier Conference foe UM-Western.
MSU-Northern 0 0 0 0 - 0
Montana Tech 14 26 21 0 - 61
MT - Kris Anderson 9 pass from Aaron Johnson (Dan Kleckner kick), 11:03
Drive: 7 plays, 33 yards.
MT - Anderson 36 pass from A. Johnson (Kleckner kick), 7:39
Drive - 4 plays, 56 yards.
MT - Kevin Dighans 1 run (Kleckner kick), 12:02
Drive: 6 plays, 37 yards. Key play: Anderson 42 pass from A. Johnson to MSU-N 2.
MT - Josh Johnson 22 run (Kleckner kick), 9:09
Drive: 3 plays, 31 yards. Key play: scoring play.
MT - Adam Cotton 5 run (Kleckner kick) 7:13
Drive: 3 plays, 17 yards. Key play: scoring play.
MT - Safety, Neill Crandell fell down in end zone, 6:16
MT - FG Kleckner 32, 0:00
Drive: 6 plays, 45 yards. Key play: scoring play.
MT - J. Johnson 35 run (Kleckner kick), 14:35
Drive: 1 play, 35 yards.
MT - J. Johnson 5 run (Kleckner kick), 9:06
Drive: 8 plays, 60 yards. Key play: J. Johnson 22 run to MSU-N 17.
MT - Teague Egan 1 run (Kleckner kick), 5:53
Drive: 4 plays, 29 yards. Key play: Egan 25 run to MSU-N 4.
First downs 13 23
Rushes-yards 36-154 53-294
Passing 7-17-1 14-19-1
Passing yards 36 200
Total yards 190 494
Punts-Ave. 4-36.5 3-43.7
Penalties-yards 8-50 7-65
Fumbles-lost 5-5 0-0
RUSHING - MSU-N, Kyle Samson 11-83, Don Saisbury 14-66, Cody Nickel 6-19, Todd Nelson 2-4, Crandell 1-(-18). MT, Josh Johnson 21-125, Teague Egan 15-109, Corey Warner 9-51, Kevin Dighans 2-6, Justus Sheets 1-11, Adam Cotton 1-5, Jens Jensen 1-0, Team 3-(minus 13).
PASSING - MSU-N, Samson 5-12-1-26, Crandell 2-5-0-13. MT, A. Johnson 13-18-1-180, Sheets 1-1-0-20.
RECEIVING - MSU-N, Nick Arnold 3-17, Nickel 2-6, Saisbury 1-8, Danny Wirtzberger 1-8. MT, Anderson 5-107, Brian Styck 5-39, Dighans 3-34, Levi Briese 1-20.
Missed field goals - none.