DILLON The Montana State University-Northern Lights football team is tiring of losing games in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Lights have suffered more losses late in the game than head coach Walt Currie cares to remember.
"Maybe this is the start of a streak," Currie laughed. "They have been so close so many games. This time they finally got one."
The one they got' was Saturday afternoon at Dillon, defeating Western 37-30. Northern lost the first matchup of the year against Western at home on a last-second field goal, giving the Bulldogs a 23-21 win. The first game against Western was also the game in which Currie was ejected for the first time in his career.
"I didn't get kicked out of this one," he joked.
Western jumped out on top early, scoring two touchdowns coming off of Northern turnovers. Western's first score came at the 8:28 mark in the first on a 10-yard pass from Travis Kirby to Brandon deLeon. Just over 30 seconds later, the Bulldogs scored their second touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Kirby to Aaron Hayder.
Northern's Travis Crawford got the Lights on the scoreboard and back into the game on a 7-yard run with 4:08 remaining in the first quarter. Crawford's touchdown was the first of four consecutive scores for the Lights.
Ryan Utterback helped the Lights start the second quarter with a bang, scoring on a 2-yard run. Two minutes later, Andy Smith caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Kerkes to give the Lights a 21-14 lead.
Chad Olsen continued the Lights hot streak, giving Northern a 27-14 lead after a 1-yard touchdown run with just under seven minutes left in the first half. For the first time all afternoon, true freshman David Knight missed the extra-point attempt on a bad snap. Knight added a field goal kick for the Lights, accounting for the only score for either team in the third quarter.
"David Knight did an outstanding job on special teams," Currie said. "He came in and was perfect for us on extra-point attempts, except for the one bad snap, if you can even count that."
Western scored on a safety and then on a Cole VanHeel touchdown with 54 seconds left in the half to battle back, creating a narrow 27-23 lead for the Lights.
"We let them get back into the game right before the half," Currie said. "I guess we like to keep it close."
Utterback broke the game open for the Lights with a 1-yard run with nine minutes remaining in the game, giving Northern a 37-23 lead.
Western scored its last touchdown with two minutes remaining in the game to cut the lead to seven. Holding on to a slim lead, the Lights recovered the onside kick and ran the clock out to end the game.
"It was a pretty balanced attack, that's how you want it to be," Currie said. "It was pretty much a team effort. All of our receivers had catches, Travis Crawford had an outstanding game on offense and caught a couple of great passes, and on defense Troy Gunlock had a great game."
The only bit of bad news for the Lights coming out of Dillon is the loss of freshman cornerback Nate Walters to a broken arm. Walters broke his left arm on one of the early plays in the game and is having surgery to repair damage today. Josh Kirby came into the game in place of Walters and will start this weekend.
Yards lost rushing21
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