By Matt B. Walen
The Montana State University-Northern Lights' football team just can't get a break.
The Lights, 1-2 conference and 1-3 overall, dropped a Frontier Conference game to Rocky Mountain College Battlin' Bears Saturday, 43-13 at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre.
But Northern was in the game at the half when the Lights only trailed 23-13. The back-breaker for the Lights could have easily been a routine punt play that appeared to end in six points for the Lights.
Northern punted the ball to Rocky and the punter returner let the ball bounce before deciding to pick it up and try to advance it up the field. Northern's special team players swarmed over the Rocky punt returner and tackled him at the 2-yard line. The ball popped loose and a Northern player caught it and crossed the goal line for an apparent touchdown.
The officials huddled and ruled that the Rocky player's momentum carried him into the endzone for a touchback. A couple of plays later, Rocky quarterback Chris Klein hit a streaking receiver Jared Bratcher for a 73-yard touchdown.
The Lights two lone scores came in that deciding second quarter when quarterback Brandon Kerkes stretched out for a 2-yard touchdown run and a 69-yard strike from Kerkes to receiver T Artis.
Kerkes, who has started at quarterback for the Lights the last two contests, was replaced by Chris Jackson at the end of the third quarter. Jackson had started at quarterback for the Lights earlier this season and all of the 1999 campaign.
Kerkes was 14 of 30 for 264 yards and he had three interception. Jackson went 4 of 11 for 38 yards and one interception.
The Lights rushing game was shut down by the Bears defense. Northern rushed for a negative 22 yards in 25 attempts.
The Lights travel to Helena Saturday, Oct. 7, for a conference game against Carroll College. The Saints dropped a close game Saturday against Western Montana College, 21-20. The Lights lone win on the season was against Western.
Kickoff for the Carroll game is 1 p.m.