By Rob Everingham
It appeared in the first half as though the MSU-Northern Lights would avenge their 69-0 loss to Carroll College, but the Saints scored 34 unanswered points en route to a 41-26 win.
The Saints opened strong and marched the ball down the field, but Darren Fike came up with an interception to give Northern the ball.
The Lights first possession ended in travesty as quarterback John Parrish threw a pass which was picked off by Travis Ahner. Ahner returned the ball 57 yards for the score. Carrolls Joey Petrino connected on the point-after, giving the Saints a 7-0 lead.
The two teams exchanged punts, and, on the Saints punt, Northern return-man Travis Crawford ran the ball back to the Carroll 36-yard line.
Northern then took advantage of the field position and Todd Clyde capped off the drive on a two-yard run. Tanner Smith booted the extra point tying the game at 7-7.
On Carrolls first possession of the second quarter, the Lights defense forced the Saints to punt.
After a fourth down conversion, Parrish hooked up with leading conference receiver Andy Smith on a 45-yard touchdown play. Tanner Smith again hit the extra point, giving Northern its first lead at 14-7.
Again, the Saints were forced to punt, and Northern started on its own 25-yard line. Three plays later, though, Smith did it again as he beat the defender and caught a pass from Parrish for the 68-yard touchdown score. Smith missed the extra point, leaving Northern up, 20-7.
The Saints then struck on a 51-yard screen play from Nate Martinson to Nick Gareffa. Petrino missed the extra point leaving Northern with the 20-13 lead.
Northern started its next drive on the 22-yard line where it fumbled the ball away to the Saints.
Carroll took no time in capitalizing. After a pass interference call on the first play, the Saints struck on a 12-yard pass from Martinson to Nick Carrell. Gareffa caught a pass from Martinson for the two-point conversion, putting Carroll on top for good at 21-20.
On the Lights next drive, Smith fumbled the ball, giving the Saints possession.
The Northern defense, though, turned things around when Havre native Josh Kirby picked off a pass, but Northern was forced to punt.
Carroll then took the ball and marched it the length of the field and J.D. Emmert found Carrell on a 32-yard pass play for the score. Another good point-after gave Carroll a 27-20 halftime lead.
The Saints scored on their first possession of the second half, lifting them to a 33-20 lead.
Neither team scored again in the third, but the Lights did take a big blow.
With 4:56 left in the third quarter, Northern strong safety Troy Gunlock went down with a neck injury. Gunlock was removed from the field by ambulance. Northern Athletic Trainer Bob Denning said Gunlock had feeling in all parts of his body.
Chris Jackson saw his first action in the fourth quarter as he took the Lights and marched down the field to the Carroll 35-yard line.
On a second down and one yard to go, Jackson called an audible, and the ball bounced off the Northern receiver and into the hands of a Carroll player.
The Saints again capitalized as Emmert hooked up with Justin Thomas. Another successful two-point conversion gave Carroll a 41-20 lead.
Northerns final touchdown came on its next possession as it took the Lights three tries from the two-yard line to punch it in.
Jackson eventually moved the ball across the goal line. A failed two-point conversion left Carroll on top, 41-26.
We had our opportunities, said Northern head coach Walt Currie.
Currie said his team just did not take care of the football. Currie pointed to the three first-half turnovers that brought Carroll back into the game.
The Lights were able to get the lead, which pleased Currie, but, he said, they just wanted to keep the Saints down.
As for the starting quarterback change, Currie said he just wanted to give Parrish an opportunity.
Its not like were playing for the league championship, Currie said.
As far as the defense, Currie said, it was like night and day over the first time the Lights faced Carroll.
Next up for Northern is a trip to Billings to face conference-leading Rocky Mountain College. Currie said he expects another high scoring game.
Hopefully, we can play them better this time, Currie said. We need to put together a whole game.