Havre Daily News Sports Editor
Some things just aren't meant to be. As well as the Montana State University-Northern football team had been playing leading up to its home date with Carroll College on Saturday, it wasn't good enough.
The No. 1-ranked Saints easily proved why they have been on top of the Frontier Conference for so long. They swatted down the surging Lights, 47-21, in front of a near-capacity crowd at Blue Pony Stadium.
Even though the Saints did not have their best day offensively, they showcased their talent in many other ways. Carroll scored directly off of two MSU-N turnovers, both interceptions of Lights quarterback Kyle Samson, and their special teams also scored twice.
Saints quarterback Tyler Emmert was his usual efficient self, but the Lights' defense played admirably, minus a few big plays. Emmert stunned the Northern secondary when he hit Zach Bumgarner for a 32-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter to put Carroll up 7-0.
Northern's first three series were the exact opposite. In fact, the Lights' offense didn't gain a first down until its fourth possession, with less than four minutes to go in the first quarter. Still, the MSU-N defense held strong and kept the first quarter damage to a minimum, as the Saints led 10-0.
Things got ugly for the Lights in the second quarter. The Saints started the rout when Regan Mack busted a punt return wide open and raced 83 yards to the end zone to up the lead to 17-0. Less than a minute later, Josh Schmidt picked off Samson and took the ball back 51 yards for another score. The Saints finished the onslaught late in the first half when Samson was picked off again, this time by Matt Thomas, who took the interception back 80 yards to put Carroll up 31-7.
Sandwiched between the two picks was a solid Northern drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Samson to Don Saisbury. Although Samson had another solid day passing and running the football, Carroll's ultra-fast defense bottled him on rushing attempts he normally breaks open. For the day, he threw for 213 yards and rushed for 116. Turnovers, however, were a big factor in Samson's day. He threw three interceptions and also fumbled near the goal line in the third quarter.
The Lights did put several solid drives together in the third quarter and managed two more scores. But the Carroll offense had just enough big-play capability in it Saturday to thwart any hopes of a comeback.
Emmert opened the second half throwing another TD strike, this time a 30-yard bomb. Northern answered when Samson hit Nick Arnold on a spectacular 23-yard TD pass. Samson appeared to be sacked twice on the play but somehow wrangled his way out and then found the wide-open Arnold just short of the goal line. That score made it 31-14 as the third quarter drew to a close.
The game was cemented by the Saints in the fourth period when they registered a safety on a botched MSU-N punt attempt, and Ryan Grosulak iced the game with an 8-yard TD run.
Positives for MSU-N included the fact that they outgained the Saints in both rushing and passing and had six more first downs. But the turnovers and Emmert's penchant for the big play did the Lights in.
The win improved the top-ranked Saints to 5-0 in conference play and 7-0 overall. They will host UM-Western on Saturday. The Lights fell to 2-3 in conference play and 4-3 overall. The Lights will return to the road for the first time in almost a month when they visit Rocky Mountain College in Billings on Saturday afternoon.
Saints 47, Lights 21
Carroll 10 21 7 9 - 47
MSU-N 0 7 7 7 - 21
CC-Bumgarner 32 pass from Emmert (Miller kick), 8:41
(Drive: 6 plays, 44 yards, 2:07)
CC-FG Miller 30, 6:04 (Drive: 5 plays, 24 yards, 1:48)
CC - Mack 83 punt return (Miller kick), 13:21
CC-Schmidt 51 interception return (Miller kick), 12:16
MSUN-Saisbury 10 pass from Samson (Kountz kick), 9:04
(Drive: 7 plays, 63 yards, 3:05)
CC-Thomas 80 interception return (Miller kick), 2:45
CC-Doak 30 pass from Emmert (Miller kick), 10:38
(Drive: 6 plays, 67 yards, 1:43)
MSUN-Arnold 23 pass from Samson (Kountz kick), 1:16
(Drive: 11 plays, 90 yards, 5:12)
CC-Safety, Saisbury tackled in end zone, 13:27
CC-Grosulak 8 run (Miller kick), 10:00
(Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards, 3:27)
MSUN-Samson 1 run (Kountz kick), 6:19
(Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards, 3:41)
First downs 16 22
Rushes-yards 35-184 50-189
Passing 124 195
Comp-Att-Int 11-22-1 15-30-3
Punts-avg. 5-42.6 7-31.3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 8-106 9-45
RUSHING-CC, Grosulak 12-89, Herrin 9-49, Barnett 2-24, Thomas 6-22, Peterson 1-3, Emmert 2-(minus 2). MSUN, Samson 25-116, Saisbury 12-41, Wermers 11-33, Shearer 2-(minus 1).
PASSING-CC, Emmert 11-22-1-124. MSUN, Samson 14-29-3-213, Wermers 1-1-0-(minus 18).
RECEIVING-CC, Bumgarner 2-37, Peterson 2-18, Herrin 2-10, Doak 1-30, McEwen 1-15, Thomas 1-8, Browne 1-8, Michaelis 1-(minus 2). MSUN, Saisbury 7-95, Shearer 2-20, Wermers 2-12, Arnold 1-23, Wirtzberger 1-20, Allen 1-15, Eldridge 1-10.