BUTTE — They meet again.

Montana Tech and Montana Western meet again on the gridiron Saturday in Dillon, a rematch that Orediggers coach Kyle Samson expects to look different from 45-21 drubbing his squad suffered at the hands of the Bulldogs in late September.

If the Orediggers’ (4-4) recent performances are any indication, he could be right.

“I think that we're a different team,” Samson said “I think we've grown a lot this year since the last time we played them. They're really good football team. They’re coached really well and they got some really good football players. We get an opportunity to play a team again, which doesn't happen a whole lot. Usually you’ve got to wait a whole year to be able to be able to play a team again that you didn't play well against. But we're excited. We feel like we're playing our best football right now.”

The Orediggers defense will be tasked with slowing down Jon Jund and the Western (6-3) offense, which has notoriously buried teams early in games all season long. Montana Tech was no exception. After grabbing a 7-0 lead, the Orediggers allowed 38 unanswered points.

In defense of Tech’s defense, no one in the Frontier Conference has been able to solve Jund. He leads the conference with 2,123 passing yards and 20 TDs through the air. His go-to wide receiver Nate Smikins also leads the Frontier with 772 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

“The quarterback’s great,” Samson said. “He’s had a lot of reps in this league. You know, they got skill kids and got good running backs. We’ve just got to go out there and execute our game plan. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us, but I think our defense been playing really, really well. If we play good in all three phases, O, D and special teams, and I think the biggest thing tomorrow is winning the turnover battle. That's always huge on the road.”

The Orediggers won the turnover battle last week in their 21-17 victory over Rocky Mountain College. And speaking of quarterback play, Jet Campbell is coming off two of his best games of the season following Montana Tech’s bye week. Last week he completed 17-of-30 passes for 316 yards. He also ran 11 times for 46 yards and two TDs.

The offense has become more efficient thanks to Campbell developing a better rhythm with playmakers like Trevor Hoffman, who had TD receptions of 39 and 58 yards against Southern Oregon on Oct. 23.

Coach Dan Thatcher’s offensive line has also found its identity, and is playing more cohesively with each snap of the football.

“I think they've done a great job and credit to coach Thatcher, our O-line coach," Samson said. "They're playing really well together and I think that's the biggest thing with the O-line. I think we've got some very good individual players up front led by our senior Hunter Spartz. But I think they just gel well together as a group. We're playing very hard and really care about each other. That's a big deal and, you know. We’ve got five guys playing as one, and I’m just really proud of those guys.”

Saturday will also be Military Appreciation Day.

“A couple of my really good friends have served and continue to serve in the military,” Samson said. “And I just want to say a huge thank you to everybody; men and women who are serving, have served continue to serve. They're the real heroes. Another reason that we get to play this great game is because of the military what they do to keep us free, and to protect us and what an awesome way to honor them.”

Kickoff at Vigilante Stadium in Dillon is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Matthew Kiewiet is the sports editor for the Montana Standard and sports betting columnist for 406MTSports. Email him at matthew.kiewiet@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter @mattkiewiet406.

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