BUTTE — The Bulldogs travelled to Butte on Saturday afternoon where they defeated the Orediggers 45-21 for their third win in a row. While Montana Tech kept it competitive for a half, Montana Western's offense became too much to handle.
The home team had won the last seven meetings between the two teams before Saturday.
"We hadn't played a game yet this year. We had played quarters but we hadn't put a whole game together," Bulldogs coach Ryan Nourse said. "I'm really proud of the guys, we knew that this is what we could do if we actually play a game for four quarters."
The first quarter was the most competitive. On the opening kickoff, the Orediggers (1-3) pinned the Bulldogs (4-1) inside their own 20-yard line. A good defensive stand led to a punt and a touchdown drive for Tech. Blake Counts scored the first points of the game on a short run.
With a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Orediggers' defense continued to play well when Kade Wilcox came up with an interception. Tech QB Jet Campbell showed speed and elusiveness when he evaded a sack multiple times before finding Kiley Caprara on a deep pass. The drive ended in a missed field goal, though.
"I was proud of the way we started the game, we missed on a lot of opportunities is how I'd put it," Orediggers coach Kyle Samson said. "But Western's a good football team and we weren't our best on offense or on defense. We have to get better."
The Bulldogs' Reese Neville ran for a touchdown in the first quarter which tied the game at seven. The Orediggers made a third down stop on the Bulldogs' next possession, but a penalty granted Western a first down. Colton McPhee ended the drive with a rushing touchdown.
Quarterback Jon Jund completed two touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 28-7 lead at halftime.
The Orediggers threatened to score in the third quarter but Campbell fumbled in the red zone, which Jund turned into another touchdown pass on the other end.
"These are the same plays we've been calling all season, the guys just decided to execute them," Nourse said. "We're enjoying this. We were in a great atmosphere for a rivalry game. But we've got to stay ready to rock and roll, the next opportunity will come fast against Rocky."
After giving up a fourth quarter field goal Blake Thelen was subbed in for Campbell. Thelen drove Montana Tech downfield but got injured on a third down play. Campbell returned to complete a short touchdown pass for the Orediggers' first points since the first quarter. Blake Counts rushed for the game's last touchdown.
Western put up 599 yards of total offense compared to Tech's 474. The Bulldogs were 3-for-3 on fourth down conversions and rushed for 216 yards compared to 87 rushing yards for the Orediggers.
"Both sides of the ball we didn't execute when we needed to," Samson said. "Hats off to their team, they're a good football team that made some really good plays."
"I'll have to look back at the film but the positive from today was that there were plays to be made, we just didn't make them," Samson continued. "We know we can do it, we were just a little bit off today on both sides."
Jund passed for an impressive 381 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Campbell finished with 282 yards and one touchdown while Thelen threw for 105 yards.
Reese Neville finished with a game-high 102 rushing yards and one touchdown while his teammate Colton McPhee had 67 yards and a touchdown. Blake Counts rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns for the Orediggers.
Montana Tech will travel to Havre to face MSU-Northern next Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will play Rocky Mountain College Saturday in Billings at 1 p.m.
"It really was about coming down to execute against a good opponent," Nourse said. "We executed what we do well and we did it hard. We made the plays that had to be made, depending on what the defense was giving us. But we definitely still have work to do, we still lack in some areas."