By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
The Montana State University-Northern football team will have to wait another week to get that elusive first win of the season.
True freshman quarterback Vance Vincent tossed a pair of touchdown passes to help lead Rocky Mountain College to a 24-12 win over the Lights Saturday at Herb Klindt Field in Billings.
Vincent made his presence felt on the first play of the game. With good field position, thanks to a 37-yard kickoff return by Chris Colvin, Vincent aired it out on the Bears' first play, connecting with Colvin on a 43-yard touchdown pass to give Rocky a very early lead.
Colvin, who played for the University of Montana a few years back, is a cornerback by trade. However, with his speed and athleticism, he is also playing offense this season.
After a slow first quarter, Northern answered on the first play of the second quarter.
Quarterback Kyle Samson turned a quick keeper into a touchdown, bursting through the line and scampering 87 yards for the Lights' first score of the game. A bad snap hindered the extra point, leaving Northern trailing 7-6.
Samson left the game midway through the second quarter, suffering from dehydration in the midst of a burgeoning Northern drive.
Backup quarterback Neill Crandell came in to further the drive, leading the Lights to Rocky's 9-yard line. But the drive stopped there, as Crandell fumbled the snap and Rocky's Pat Prescott recovered.
After its initial outburst, Rocky's offense was held largely in check for the rest of the first half. But the Bears broke things open in the second half.
Colvin struck again, this time on defense. He intercepted a Crandell pass and returned it 28 yards to the Bears' 48-yard line. Rocky needed just seven plays to set up Justin Helvik's 1-yard touchdown plunge to go up 14-6.
The Bears struck again with 9:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. Vincent found Geraldine's Jon Owen on a short pass over the middle that Owen turned into a 38-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 21-6.
Owen's touchdown was made possible by teammate Eric Reis' 21-yard run on a fake punt. The Lights' defense came up with a two big defensive plays to force Rocky to punt. But Rocky's head coach gambled with the fake punt and it paid dividends.
Rocky added a Jeremy Duprey 45-yard field goal with 6:01 remaining for some added insurance.
Down 21-6, Samson came back into the game, trying to rally his team. He led the Lights to their second score of the game, finding fullback Cody Nickel from 6 yards out to cut the lead to 21-12. Northern tried for the two-point conversion, to make it a one-possession game, but the run was stopped short.
Northern's subsequent drives in the fourth quarter ended with another Colvin interception and a sack of Samson.
Besides the absence of Samson, the Northern offense hurt itself by committing penalties, dropping passes and turning the ball over. The Lights had three third-down conversions erased because of penalties, while adding three turnovers to their Frontier Conference-leading turnover total.
Northern outgained Rocky 360 to 252 yards in total offense and 18 to 9 in first downs.
Samson completed 10 of 18 passes for 117 yards, while rushing for 109 yards on 18 carries. Don Saisbury racked up 83 yards of total offense. Nick Arnold, Dan Wirtzberger and Clint Herrera had three catches each for the Lights.
Defensively, Northern held Rocky to just 75 yards rushing on 32 carries. Marc Samson and Joe Tusick had nine tackles each to lead the Lights. Safety Dilan Saisbury added seven tackles and a sack, while Tom Claytor and Josh Glahn each had a sack.
With the win, Rocky improves to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Frontier Conference. Northern falls to 0-4 in conference play and 0-5 overall.
Northern head coach Mark Samson was unavailable for comment before press time.
The Lights will return to action on Saturday when they host Southern Oregon at 1 p.m.