Courtesy: Carroll Athletics
Montana Tech scored three touchdowns and a field goal in the second half while holding Carroll College to just one score en route to a 45-28 victory over the Fighting Saints in a Thursday evening season opener at Alumni Coliseum in Butte.
The first half was a back and forth battle with the Saints drawing first blood. Carroll scored in the final seconds of the first quarter on an 18-yard pass from Tanner Gustavsen to Ryan Walsh who pulled down a tough catch under heavy coverage and fell into the endzone for the score. The touchdown capped an impressive 9-play, 75-yard drive.
The Diggers answered with one big play at the start of the second quarter. Quinn McQueary found an open Chris LaChance for a 73-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 with 14:48 to play before the half. The Diggers added another score just under five minutes later when Jed Fke scored from the 1-yard line to go up 14-7.
Carroll answered with 6:46 left in the half with an efficient four-play drive that included a 33-yard pass to Eric Dawson and a 23-yard toss to Paul Hart which set up a 15-yard touchdown run by Dawson out of the wildcat formation, his first of the day.
Tech answered with a touchdown on their next possession to regain a 21-14 lead before the Saints executed the hurry-up offense to perfection close out the half with a touchdown from Gustavsen to Dawson to tie the game at 21.
Neither team seemed in control at the half. The Carroll offense had run to near perfection at times, but the defense gave up a pair of big plays for touchdowns.
The second half would be a different story.
After a short Carroll drive to start the half, Montana Tech methodically drove the field in 11 plays to set up a one-yard touchdown from Fike to take the lead. After regaining possession, the Diggers followed up with a 67-yard drive and a keeper from McQueary to go up 35-21.
After another short drive by the Saints, the Diggers answered with a 70-yard drive, but the Carroll defense held, setting up a Tech field goal to go up 38-21.
The Saints caught a break when Chandler Arbizzani recovered a muffed punt on the Montana Tech 24-yard line. Carroll cut the lead to 38-28 on a five-yard touchdown scramble by Gustavsen a few plays later.
The Tech offense dashed any hope of a comeback with another long drive of 67 yards setting up a touchdown pass from McQueary to Dion Williams to close out the scoring.
While the stats were fairly even in the first half, but Tech outgained the Saints significantly after the break to build a 511-296 total yard advantage.
Walsh led the Saints with 30-yards on six carries. Dawson tallied 15-yards rushing to go with 97-yards receiving and touchdowns in both categories. Gustavsen was efficient, throwing 17-28 for 202 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
McQueary had a stellar game, going 27-41 for 338 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. Dion Williams caught nine passes for 68 yards and a TD while Jed Fike ran 26 times for 130 yards.
The Saints now get eight days of rest before hosting Rocky Mountain in the home opener at Nelson Stadium on Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.