Breaking Sports: Saints bury the Lights
MSU-Northern running back Justin Montelius looks for room during Friday night's Frontier Conference opener between the Lights and No. 2 Carroll College in Havre.
As season-opening games go, things didn't go as expected for the Montana State University-Northern Lights. Of course, the Lights were beginning the 2012 Frontier Conference season with a highly-anticipated showdown with the No. 2 team in the NAIA in the form of the Carroll College Fighting Saints.
And as darkness descended upon Blue Pony Stadium on Friday night, it was the Saints who walked away with their heads held high after a dominating 31-6 win. The win was Carroll's 12th straight over the Lights, a streak which dates back all the way to the 2006 NAIA playoffs.
And though the final score was lopsided, the game was anything but at halftime.Carroll led just 7-0 in a first half which saw the Saints turn it over twice, but also rush for 180 yards. The Saints opened the game with an 80-yard 10-play march which was capped by a Chance Demarais 3-yard run. From there however, the Lights' defense stood tall and shut Carroll out the rest of the half.
Carroll's defense was also up to the task, holding the usually-potent Northern offense to no points and just 12 yards rushing in the first 30 minutes. A costly interception in the endzone by junior quarterback Derek Lear and six offensive penalties in the first half derailed three different Northern scoring chances.
Then, just like that, Carroll took command in the third quarter. On a windy night in Havre, the Saints scored on three straight possessions in the third, as Demarais rumbled for a 20-yard score, and Dakota Stonehouse threw two TD passes in his first career start. The onslaught of points happened in just a total of 11 minutes and down 28-0 against the Carroll defense, the Lights had little chance to come back. Northern did add a score as the buzzer sounded on the game as Lear hit Brandt Montelius for his first career TD.
On a windy night with both defenses playing well, rushing turned out to be the difference. The Saints totaled 265 yards on the ground with Demarais gaining 145. Northern ran the ball for just 44 yards, and lost senior Stephen Silva for a portion of the game to injury. In all, Carroll outgained the Lights 328-228 in total yards, though the Lights had the ball for three more minutes than the Saints did and had just one less first down. Lear finished 20-for-32 for 185 yards passing, one TD and one INT. Kyle Johnston led the way with five cathes for 82 yards, but he too left with an injury early in the fourth quarter.
The Lights (0-1) now have a week off before traveling to Eastern Oregon on Sept. 8. Carroll (1-0) travels to Big Sky Conference power Portland State next Saturday night.
For complete coverage from Friday night's game, see Monday's Havre Daily News.