Avalanche: Montana Tech 42, Lights 0

Orediggers bury the Lights in snowy homecoming game


September 27, 2019

Colin Thompson

Bryce Bumgardner runs through the snow during Saturday's Frontier Conference game at Blue Pony Stadium.

On a day when Montana State University-Northern ushered in announcements about the future, the Lights' present was a different matter all together.

Prior to Northern's homecoming game against Montana Tech, there was plenty of joy, in spite of horrifically bad weather, as the university announced more plans to go forward with the building of an on-campus stadium.

However, not too far into the Lights battle with the No. 25 Orediggers, there was little happiness, as the Diggers barreled over the Lights 42-0 in a blinding September blizzard Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium.

"They (Orediggers) beat us in every phase of the game," MSU-N head coach Andrew Rolin said. "They beat us physically, they executed better than we did and they out-coached us. You name it, they beat us at it, and they beat us soundly."

In conditions like they were Saturday, blinding, wet snow piling up on the field, and a 30 mph wind howling through cycle valley, the Orediggers had two things that were absolutely critical to be successful in weather like that. They had a stifling defense, and a ground game that couldn't be stopped.

Tech rushed for 237 yards, with freshman Blake Counts totaling 125 yards, a new career high. Defensively, the Orediggers held the Lights to just 124 total yards and nine first downs. Northern's ground game was halted to the tune of just 58 yards, but Tech also shut down the MSU-N passing game, which came in ranked second in the Frontier Conference.

"They were just more physical than us on both sides of the ball," Rolin said. "That's disappointing. I think we let the circumstances get to us, whether it was them making plays, or the weather, or whatever, we just didn't respond to any of it. Bottom line, they were tougher than us today."

Northern seemed to be fine early on, as the defense earned a quick three-and-out. But, with the wind at his back, Jet Campbell threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Hoffman to open the scoring. Minutes later, the Lights saw their best drive of the day go for not when a Brenden Medina pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage before Tech linebacker Carter Myers snatched it out of the air and returned it 48 yards for a pick-six that made the score 14-0 with 1:38 left in the first quarter.

"Those two big plays early on hurt us," Rolin said. "We didn't respond well to those plays at all. We've got to be mentally tougher than that."

Big plays kept happening too. Despite the snow covered field, Campbell ripped off a 30-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter, and he added a TD pass to Anthony Jones on a a play where the Lights had Tech backed into a third-and-22 situation. The strike sent the Diggers into the lockerroom with a 28-0 lead, and took away any hope of a Northern second-half comeback.

Campbell added another TD pass to Hoffman in the third quarter, and Counts, who filled in nicely for star running back Jed Fike, scored on a five-yard run in the fourth to cap the scoring.

"They started fast and we didn't," Rolin said. "They played at a high level and we didn't. That's pretty much the bottom line."

Tech, winners of three straight, did play at a high level. Even with the winter winds blowing, Campbell threw for 149 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 36 yards. Tyler Folkes added 57 yards on the ground, while Hoffman, the Frontier's leading receiver, had three catches for 61 yards and two scores.

Defensively, Tech picked off Medina twice, and held the freshman to his lowest output of the season, as he tallied just 66 yards on 11-of-29 passing. He was also sacked five times, while Northern's running game wasn't much better. Jett Robertson did have a hard-fought 50 yards on 17 carries, but overall, the Lights only crossed into Tech territory four times all day.

Northern's defense did what it could to hold up in the tough conditions, but the Diggers still had 386 yards of offense and twice as many first downs as the Lights. Jake Norby did have a big day with 11 tackles, while Jaren Maki and Justin Pfeifer combined for 14 more and each had a tackle for loss. The Lights also forced two Tech fumbles.

Still, it wasn't close to enough, as Northern fell to 0-4 in the Frontier and 1-4 overall, ahead of its bye week.

"What you all saw today, that Isn't us," Rolin said. "This is not who we are or who we've been this season. So we have to regroup. We've got to figure this out, we've got to get tougher. And we need to go out and find a way to get a win.

The Lights will have a bye next Saturday before returning to the road to play at Eastern Oregon Oct. 12. MSU-N then comes home to host Rocky Mountain College Oct. 19.

Lights Notes: Saturday's loss to Tech was Northern's 31st straight loss in Frontier Conference play. It was also MSU-N's lowest offensive output of the season by a wide margin. Hoffman already has nine touchdowns in just four games this season. The Lights have 13 turnovers in league play this season. Hunter Riley punted 10 times for the Lights with a long of 42 into the howling gale. Tech and Northern only play once in 2019.

Montana Tech 14 14 7 7 - 42

MSU-Northern 0 0 0 0 - 0

First Quarter

MT - Jet Campbell 47 pass to Trevor Hoffman (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 2 Plays, 46 Yards

MT - Carter Myers 48 INT return (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 0 Plays, 0 Yards

Second Quarter

MT - Campbell 30 run (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 5 Plays, 56 Yards

MT - Campbell 23 pass to Anthony Jones (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 8 Plays, 65 Yards

Third Quarter

MT - Campbell 7 pass to Hoffman (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 9 Plays, 59 Yards

Fourth Quarter

MT - Blake Counts 5 run (Padilla Kick)

Drive: 10 Plays, 63 Yards


First Downs 19 9

Rushing 47/237 32/58

Passing 149 66

Total Offense 386 124

Punt Returns 0/0 0/0

Interceptions 2/48 0/0

Punts 3/25.5 10/26.4

Penalties 5/55 4/52

Possession Time 23:30 25:08


RUSHING - MT, Blake Counts 23-125, Tyler Folkes 13/57, Jet Campbell 2/36, Anthony Jones 1/15, Braden Feisthamel 3/4, Braxton Poerter 3/10, Kenny Lafyette 1/0, MSU-N, Jett Robertson 17/53, Cameron Taylor 8/26, Brenden Medina 7/4.

PASSING - MT, Jet Campbell 9-18-149-3-0; MSU-N, Brenden Medina 11-29-66-0-2.

RECIEVING - MT, Trevor Hoffman 3/61, Nate Sander 1/29, Anthony Jones 2/27, Alec Wooley-Steele 2/24, Will Hunthausen 1/8; MSU-N, Jake Horner 3/24, Bryce Bumgardner 4/21, Jett Robertson 1/6, Cameron Taylor 1/3.

TACKLES - MT, Ike Schweikert 7, Carter Myers 7, Arthur Flynn 6, Jesse Sims 5, Jake Orvis 4, Damree Morris 4, Jacob Clarke 4, MSU-N, Jake Norby 11, Jaren Maki 8, Shaderius Jenkins 6, Justin Pfeifer 6, Morgan McCrary 5, Josh Rose 5.

Frontier Conference Standings

College of Idaho 4-0 4-0

Montana Western 4-0 4-0

Montana Tech 3-1 3-1

Carroll College 2-2 2-2

Rocky Mountain 1-3 2-3

Eastern Oregon 1-3 1-4

Southern Oregon 1-3 1-4

MSU-Northern 0-4 1-4


Montana Tech 42, MSU-Northern 9

College of Idaho 42, Rocky Mountain 0

Montana Western 49, Eastern Oregon 13

Southern Oregon 29, Carroll College 28

Saturday, Oct. 12

MSU-Northern at Eastern Oregon

College of Idaho at Carroll College

Montana Western at Montana Tech

Rocky Mountain at Southern Oregon

Colin Thompson

The MSU-Northern defense makes a tackle during Saturday's game against Montana Tech at Blue Pony Stadium.


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