The end came quietly for the Montana State University-Northern football team.
But the Lights went out giving the No. 2 Carroll College Fighting Saints all they had.
Northern wrapped up its season with a 35-10 loss to the Saints on Saturday in Helena. The loss left the Lights with a 3-7 record in Frontier Conference play, as well as overall.
But Northern had some moments Saturday, even in the face of adversity.
The Lights were decimated with injuries for the second straight year, and went into Saturday’s finale without starting quarterback Derek Lear, as well as backup quarterback Travis Dean.
Instead, Helena native and sophomore defensive back Matt Reyant got the start for the Lights. Reyant played some quarterback as a true freshman, but moved to defensive back this season. He hadn’t taken a snap all year for Northern, but played admirably against one of the NAIA’s best defenses. Reyant led MSU-N on an a second-quarter drive which resulted in a Kyle Kercher field goal with six minutes left in the half. The score put Northern down just 14-3 after Carroll opened the second with a John Camino 2-yard touchdown run and a 20-yard TD pass from former Havre Blue Pony Gary Wagner to Corey Peterson.
In between Kercher’s field goal and Reyant’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Kercher to start the fourth quarter, the Saints asserted their dominance on both sides of the ball.
Wagner, who was celebrating senior day at Carroll, and has been on fire as of late, was again in his final game against the Lights.
After Kercher’s field goal, Wagner closed the half with a 22 –yard score to Peterson, and he opened the third period with a 2-yard TD run of his own. After Reyant found Kercher for his first career touchdown pass, Wagner capped off a brilliant day with an 8-yard strike to Matt Ritter with 1:29 left in the game.
Wagner finished the day 20-of-28 with three TD passes and no interceptions to go with 207 yards through the air and another 44 on the ground. Reyant was also efficient against the Saints’ defense, throwing for117 yards and a score as well as gaining another 47 yards on the ground.
But it was Carroll’s running game, and its ability to keep the Lights out of the endzone which ruled the day.
The Saints racked up 400 yards of offense, including 210 on the ground while dominating the time of possession. Northern totaled just 227 total yards in what was a clean game. The Lights only lost one fumble as did Carroll. Brandon O’Brien led the Lights in receiving with 59 yards on three catches, while Peterson caught four balls for 65 yards and a pair of scores. In his final game of the regular season, Camino led Carroll’s ground attack with 112 yards and a TD, while Stephen Silva totaled 57 yards rushing for the Lights.
While Northern’s season ended Saturday at Nelson Stadium, the Saints (10-0) will be back at home this Saturday to face Azusa Pacific in the first round of the 2010 NAIA Playoffs.
Saints 35, Lights 10
MSU-Northern 0 3 0 7 — 10
Carroll 0 21 7 7 — 35
CC — John Camino 2 run (Tom Yaremko kick), 13:55.
CC — Corey Peterson 20 pass from Gary Wagner (Yaremko kick), 11:15.
MSU-N — Kyle Kercher 29 FG, 6:49.
CC — Peterson 22 pass from Wagner (Yaremko kick), 1:01.
CC — Wagner 2 run (Yaremko kick), 6:47.
MSU-N — Kercher 16 pass from Matt Reyant (Kercher kick), 11:38.
CC — Matt Ritter 8 pass from Gary Wagner (Yaremko kick), 1:29.
First downs 12 30
Rushes-yards 110 210
Passing yards 117 207
Total Yards 227 417
Comp-Att-Int 11-18-0 20-28-0
Punt Returns 0-0 2-11
Kickoff Returns 5-51 3-61
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Sacked-yds lost 3-13 0-0
Punts-avg. 5-27.4 1-24
Penalties-yds 5-35 5-40
Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-1
RUSHING — MSU-N, Stephen Silva 7-58, Matt Reyant 17-45, James Chandless 5-13, Orin Johnson 1-0, Justin Montelius 1-(-6). CC, Camino 24-112, Wagner 11-44, Chance Demarais 15-38, Ryan Egan 1-19, Jeff Deal 1-(-1), TEAM 1-(-2).
PASSING — MSU-N, Reyant 11-18-0 117. CC, Wagner 20-28-0 207.
RECEIVING — MSU-N, Brandon O’Brien 3-59, Matt Stuart 3-22, Kercher 2-23, Silva 2-9, Johnson 1-4. CC, Lat Wipplinger 5-48, Bubba Bartlett 5-38, Peterson 4-65, Ritter 2-19, Ryan Egan 2-10, Jared Hunt 1-17, Cole Coba 1-10.
In the books
Lights finish the year 3-7 overall and 3-7 in the Frontier Conference
MSU-N quick kicks: MSU-N's Kyle Kercher finished the season perfect on field goals tries with Saturday's 29-yard make in the second quarter against the Saints. Northern linebacker Landry See captured the league's tackling title, while fellow Lights Will Andrews and A.J. Pasalo also finished in the Top 10 in the Frontier in that category. The Saints swept the Lights for the fourth straight season and will ride a 43-game Frontier Conference winning streak into next season. With Wagner's performance on Saturday, he has a chance to lead the NAIA in passer rating after finishing second in that category a year ago. In two games against MSU-N this season, Wagner threw six touchdown passes against no INT's.