The Montana State University-Northern Lights had moments of glory Saturday afternoon, but in the end, Carroll College was still Carroll College. On a chilly, dark afternoon at Blue Pony Stadium, the No. 2 Saints racked up over 300 yards on the ground en route to a 42-24 Frontier Conference victory over the Lights. Carroll finishes the regular season 10-1 and outright Frontier champions, while the Lights finished a solid 5-5.
Carroll went ahead 21-7 early behind a huge day from backup running back Dustin Rinker, who was filling in for the injured Chance Demarais. Rinker rushed for 231 yards, including a 72-yard run in the second quarter. But Northern answered with a great drive and the second of two touchdown hookups between Derek Lear and Orin Johnson, which cut the Carroll lead to 21-17 at half. The game really got interesting as Northern's Will Andrews opened the third quarter with a 31-yard fumble recovery which put the Lights up 24-21. But Carroll's defense stiffended and didn't give Northern's offense a single score the entire second half, while the Saints grabbed two interceptions from Lear, including a pick six by Colten Shirley which turned out to be the final margin. Northern's only other points came on a Juan Garcia field goal midway through the second quarter.
The Carroll defense held Northern to 346 yards of offense, 100 below the Lights' season average. Lear went 16-of-30 for 250 yards, two TD's and two INT's. Stephen Silva rushed for 65 yards, Johnson rushed for 30 yards and caught six balls for 62 yards, while Kyle Johnston had another huge game, with four catches for 141 yards. Carroll receiver Matt Ritter had a career day, catching seven passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
The Lights finished in third place in the Frontier, while Carroll will host an NAIA first-round playoff game next Saturday in Helena.
For full coverage, see Monday's Havre Daily News.