First Half; Play by Play. Paul Panisko
Story from ButteSports.com
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Montana Tech’s football season is over.
The Orediggers had a disastrous third quarter, surrendering 28 points as Montana Tech fell 42-20 to Saint Francis in the NAIA quarterfinal game at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium. Stats
Saint Francis’ third-quarter explosion, which was aided by three Oredigger turnovers, broke open a game that was tied at 14 at halftime.
P.J. Dean broke that ty with 11 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter, capping the first drive of the half with a 7-yard touchdown run. The point after was blocked, but the Cougars quickly made up for that.
Five minutes later, Justin Green, who ran for 217 yards on 21 carries, scored on a 10-yard run. Nick Ferrer hit Aaron Harris to make it a 28-14 lead.
Four plays after Jarred Holman picked off Quinn McQueary, who made his first start in more than a month, Ferrer connected with Cameron Smith for a 25-yard score.
The Orediggers lost the ball on a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and again it took the Cougars four plays to get back on the board.
Sean Boswell hauled in an 8-yard pass to make it 42-14 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
McQueary hit Nolan Saraceni for a 70-yard touchdown with 5:45 left in the game to cap the scoring. The PAT was no good.
Saraceni, who was held to a season-low 64 yards, put the Orediggers on top on Tech’s first drive of the game. Clay Cavender busted a 46-yard run that set up a 2-yard Saraceni score and a 7-0 lead with 12:12 left in the first quarter.
The Cougars answered with 14 straight points.
Ferrer hit Seth Coate for an 18-yard score to tie the game at 7 with 5:25 left in the first. The Cougars took a 14-7 lead with a 2-yard Green run with 10:15 on the second-quarter clock.
Following a short punt, the Cougars were in business again, looking to add to the lead.
But Jacob Crawford made a huge play, stopping Green for a 3-yard loss on fourth and 1 from the Oredigger 22.
Tech capitalized on the big play, as Cavender scored on a 12-yard run to tie the game with 2:24 left in the first half.
Ferrer completed 21 of 34 passes for 230 yards. He was picked off once, by Will Davey. The interception was Davey’s fifth of the season.
Cavender ran for 82 yards in the first half. The senior receiver who lined up at quarterback in the wildcat offense, however, was held to minus 1 yard in the second half.
Cavender also caught five passes for 38 yards. Senior Alec Bray capped his Tech career with three catches for 26 yards.
McQueary, who spent most of his sophomore season on the sideline with an injured shoulder, completed 12 of 18 passes for 148 yards. He was picked off three times in the second half.
Saraceni closed his junior season with 1,684 yards rushing. He scored 21 touchdowns, 19 rushing and two receiving. The Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Year also threw a TD pass this season.
Saint Francis heads to the semifinals at 11-0. The Cougars are the only undefeated team left in the playoffs.
The Frontier Conference champion Orediggers close the season at 10-2, which was an incredible turnaround from the 1-9 record the team posted in 2014.
The loss caps the Oredigger careers of Bray, Cavender, Crawford. DeAngelo Bell, Caleb Vance, Xavier Marsden, Matt Berg, Devon Jones, Matthew Neylan, David Meis, Tyler Gavlak, Tyler Denny, Gage McCann and Beau-Riley Pearson.
Defending NAIA national champion Southern Oregon, the Frontier Conference runner up, went on the road and beat Baker of Kansas 24-19 to advance to the semifinals.