Bulldogs traveled to Caldwell, Idaho over Thanksgiving weekend for the Best Western Caldwell Inn and Suites Lady Yote Classic.Photo Credit to Liza Safford, Inside the Lines Photography. (read more)
Successful season leads to post-season recognition for 10 Bulldogs. (read more)
Cross Country season comes to a close in Charlotte, North Carolina. (read more)
McCree named to all-freshman team, Ness named Champion of Character. (read more)
Klinker's first honor of the season. (read more)
Ward's first honor of the season, Mason's second. (read more)
Paul Bielawski and Mindy Kaufman, both freshmen, qualified for the NAIA Cross Country Championships. (read more)
Women drop first game of the season, split weekend in Idaho
CALDWELL, Idaho – After running out to a perfect 8-0 start to the 2015-16 season, the women’s basketball team from Montana Western won their ninth consecutive game against host College of Idaho – 74-48 – at the 16th Annual Best Western Caldwell Inn and Suites Lady Yote Classic inside the J.A. Albertson Activities Center, on Friday night.
The hot-start came to an end on Saturday evening as the Bulldogs took on Cascade Conference favorite and No. 14 Eastern Oregon. The Mountaineers ran away from the upstart Bulldogs, 68-50, dropping them to 9-1 headed into the first week of Frontier Conference action.
Day one of the Classic pitted Montana Western against the College of Idaho ‘Yotes for the second time this season – Western won the first meeting – 85-67.
Aniese Palmore scored eight of her 17 points in a 25-6 run to end the second quarter, lifting Montana Western past College of Idaho, 74-48, in Game 2 of the Best Western Caldwell Inn and Suites Lady Yote Classic.
The NAIA Division I Bulldogs (9-0) remained perfect on the season in completing the season sweep of C of I, moving into tomorrow’s title game, where they will meet Eastern Oregon, a 56-50 winner of Montana Tech.
The Lady Yotes (0-5) hung tough early, opening the second quarter on a 7-1 run to take their largest lead of the night at 20-13 after an Emily Rainboth 3-pointer. However, Sierra Higheagle hit two free throws and a triple, with Palmore draining back-to-back treys – followed by a lay-up to spark the Western run.
Leading 38-26 at the break, Higheagle canned two 3-pointers in a 10-2 third quarter run that extended the margin to 54-33, with the hosts unable to get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Higheagle had 17 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from outside the arc, with Palmore adding nine assists. Molly Klinker had 10 points and Kaye Bignell scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in the victory, as Western forced 18 turnovers.
Kiara Skinner led C of I with 13 points – all in the first half – with Petra Lumpert scoring nine points, adding a game-high 11 rebounds and five assists. The Yotes made just 30-percent of their field goal attempts and were outscored in the paint, 38-16.
Recap courtesy of Mike Safford, Sports Information, College of Idaho.
Less than 24-hours later, the ‘Dawgs took the floor to square off against Cascade Conference and NAIA DII foe, No. 14 Eastern Oregon. The stifling defense from the Mountaineers led them to a 68-50 victory.
The Mountaineers (4-4) won their third-straight contest, while the Bulldogs (9-1) dropped their first game of the 2015-16 campaign.
Aniese Palmore paced the Bulldogs with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists in the loss. Molly Klinker also pitched in with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Freshman Britt Cooper came off the bench to play 21-minutes and led the team with 8 rebounds, she played well, despite an 0-9 effort from the field.
Klebaum led the way for EOU with a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. She was 5-for-12 from beyond the arc.
After the Bulldogs built an early 10-3 advantage in the opening quarter, Hill netted back-to-back three's, and Osborne scored two-straight layups to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.
Hill drilled yet another three-pointer, and then sophomore guard Payton Parrish swooshed one of her own to kick start the second quarter for EOU.
Meanwhile, EOU's defense confined Montana Western to a 3-for-13 shooting effort in the second quarter, and with 1:10 left in the half, Klebaum drilled one of her five three's to put the Mountaineers on top, 32-20.
Although Montana Western got as close as eight (41-33) in the third quarter, a steady inside-outside diet of Osborne, Klebaum, and Hill kept EOU in front.
Klebaum scored the first eight points for EOU in the final quarter to extend the Navy and Gold's advantage to 17 (58-41) with 5:53 remaining.
Later in the stanza, Hill drilled a mid-range jumper, and then Parrish connected on a long ball to grant EOU its largest lead (66-43) of the contest with just under two minutes remaining.
The Mountaineers tossed in a 47.8 percent (11-for-23) clip in the second half while holding the Bulldogs to a dismal 30.9 percent (12-for-39) outing.
Seth Dahle, Eastern Oregon Sports Information.
Montana Western will return to action on Dec. 3 to play host to the University of Great Falls in their first Frontier Conference games of the season. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.
10 'Dawgs named all-conference, Wilson Defensive MVP
DILLON, Mont., October 16th, 2015 – Following the best season in over a decade for the University of Montana Western Bulldog football team – a 7-3 record and a third place conference finish – 10 individuals were recognized for their outstanding performances that helped propel the ‘Dawgs all the way a No. 10 national ranking.
Six of the recognized players are from the defensive side of the ball. The stingy Bulldog defense led the Frontier Conference in rush defense per game (104.6 yards) and were second in defensive scoring per game (17.2 points) and total defense per game (340 yards). They were not only at the top of the conference, but the NAIA as well – No. 7 in rush defense per game, No. 9 in scoring defense per game and No. 14 in sacks per game (2.8).
The other four players came from the offensive side of the ball where the Bulldogs scored 30.9 points per game, gained 404.5 yards per game and led the Frontier with a plus-6 turnover margin.
Montana Western has only had 13 players named to the all-conference teams over the past two seasons.
AJ Wilson, a 6-foot-1, 240 lb. senior linebacker from Helena, Mont. earned First Team all-conference honors and was picked as the Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year by coaches from around the Frontier.
During the season, Wilson racked up a team-high 73 total tackles – 45 solo and 28 assisted – 9 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and most impressive, 3 defensive touchdowns.
All three touchdowns came in the Bulldogs first game of the season, a 49-6 rout of Rocky Mountain College. He returned two fumbles and one interception for a touchdown, he also intercepted an additional pass to earn Frontier Conference Player of the Week honors.
Wilson also earned Frontier Conference Player of the Week honors in their second game of the season, a 24-20 victory over College of Idaho.
The First Team selection was a second team performer a season ago and was named an American Football Network preseason NAIA All-American heading into the 2015 campaign.
In his career, Wilson totaled 233 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and five interceptions. Wilson finished just 1.5 tackles loss away from a Montana Western school record.
Junior 6-2, 255 lb. defensive end, Reno Ward, from Deer Lodge, Mont. was named a First Team all-conference defensive linemen for his remarkable play this season.
Ward led the NAIA in sacks (12.5) and sacks per game (1.25), he also led the Frontier Conference in tackles for loss (20) and tackles for loss per game (2), which also ranked No. 8 and No. 6 in the NAIA respectively.
To go with his stops behind the line of scrimmage, Ward finished fourth on the team with 69 total tackles – 42 solo and 27 assisted – and forced two fumbles.
He was named the Frontier Conference Player of the Week after a 52-6 victory over MSU-Northern in which he recorded 13 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Senior Joe Coker, a 6-foot, 215 lb. senior linebacker from Helena, Mont. garnered First Team all-conference honors from his middle linebacker position.
Coker finished second on the team with 72 total tackles – 40 solo stops and 32 assisted – four tackles for loss, one sack and one interception.
As a junior, Coker was named second team all-conference at linebacker and named an American Football Network preseason NAIA All-American prior to the 2015 season.
Coker has had a stellar career as a three-year starter on the Bulldogs defense, he has recorded 277 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception.
TJ Benson, 5-10, 185 lb. senior linebacker from Libby, Mont. earned First Team all-conference recognition for his play as an outside linebacker for the tough Bulldog defense.
Benson, who earned his first conference honors, racked up 69 total tackles – 45 solo and 24 assisted – 7.5 tackles for loss, eight passes defended, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack. His forced fumble was returned by AJ Wilson for a touchdown.
Playing as an undersized linebacker, Benson thrived over the past three seasons as a starter on the Bulldog defense as a tackler and in coverage. In his three seasons, he recorded 216 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, broke up nine passes, intercepted four and returned one for a touchdown.
Senior Dakota Wainwright, a 5-11, 245 lb. Palmer, Alaska native, wrapped up the complete sweep of all-conference selections for the Bulldogs linebacking crew as he was named Second Team all-conference. He joined Wilson, Coker and Benson as linebackers on the all-conference list.
In his final season for the ‘Dawgs, Wainwright finished with 67 total tackles – 35 solo and 32 assisted – 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a huge blocked punt returned for a 36-yard touchdown.
The blocked punt kept the Bulldogs season alive after they had dropped back-to-back home games to then-No. 4 Carroll College and then-No. 2 Southern Oregon. Following the losses, Montana Western traveled to Eastern Oregon and saw themselves trailing 23-22 with 2:09 left to play. Wainwright made consecutive tackles at the line of scrimmage on second and third downs, forcing the Mountaineers to punt. On the punt, Wainwright blocked the punt and returned it 36-yards for the game-winning touchdown to move the Bulldogs to 4-2 on the season.
Wainwright earned Frontier Conference Player of the Week honors for his late-game heroics.
During his career as a Bulldog linebacker, he totaled 206 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 9 sacks.
Tyrell Penner, 6-3, 270 lb. sophomore from Salmon, Idaho, was named a Second Team performer on the defensive line from his defensive tackle position.
Penner anchored the middle of the defensive line that led the Frontier Conference in rush defense per game. On the year, Penner recorded 39 total tackles – 17 solo and 22 assisted – to with 1.5 tackles for loss and .5 sacks. He frequently took up a double-team up-front that allowed the quartet of all-conference linebackers behind him to run free and make one-on-one tackles with opposing teams running backs and quarterbacks.
For the third consecutive season, Will Thacker, 6-1 290 lb. senior offensive lineman from Winnemucca, Nev. found himself on the all-conference list from his right guard position. Thacker was named to the Second Team for the second time in his career, he was on the First Team as a junior and Second Team his sophomore season.
Caleb Aradanas-DeGroot, 6-3, 275 lb. Missoula, Mont. native and Loyola Sacred Heart High School graduate joined Thacker as a member of the Second Team as an offensive lineman, where he played right tackle for two seasons.
The duo on the right side of the line proved to be a force against opposing defensive lines, where they demonstrated both power and athleticism by helping the Bulldogs rank in top-30 in the NAIA for total rushing offense (190 yards per game) and total offense (404 yards per game).
They were known for their crushing run blocks as they pulled out in front of Bulldog ball carriers and their great agility in pass protection that limited the Bulldogs’ opponents to fewer than two sacks per game, No. 3 in the Frontier Conference.
Sam Rutherford, 6-1, 215 lb. junior running back also found himself on the all-conference list for the third consecutive season. Rutherford has been a Second Team selection all three seasons. He is also the school-record holder for most rushing yards in a season, with 1,061 yards that he accomplished his sophomore season.
A graduate of Centerville High School, Rutherford gained 738 rushing yards on 160 carries – 4.6 yards per carry – and found the end zone in six games as he scored eight rushing touchdowns on the season. He also caught nine passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Two major highlights for the 2015 season for Rutherford are his four total touchdowns in a 44-2 victory over MSU-Northern, his fourth career game with 3-plus touchdowns in a game and his seventh multi-touchdown game. He also rushed for 185 yards in a 10-9 conference loss to then-No. 4 Carroll College, his season-high.
Senior Matt Lickfold, a 6-3, 230 lb. tight end/wide receiver from Post Falls, Idaho was named Second Team all-conference at the tight end position for his performances in the 2015 campaign.
Lickfold, a quarterback-turned-wide receiver-turned-tight end showed very little problems in his new position this season. Having to do more blocking than he ever had to do as a quarterback worked out well for the tight end as he helped the Bulldogs rush for nearly 200 yards per game this season.
He also looked natural catching the ball as he reeled in a team-high five touchdown receptions, finished second with 27 catches and third with 361 receiving yards – 13.2 yards per reception.
Lickfold finishes his career with 91 receptions for 1,234 yards and 11 touchdowns, he also had 126 rushing yards and one touchdown as a wildcat quarterback.
Click here for full all-conference teams.
Freshmen gain experience at NAIA Cross Country Championships
Charlotte, North Carolina, November 22, 2015 – The University of Montana Western freshmen cross country runners – Paul Bielawski and Mindy Kaufman – may not have had their best races of the season, but they gained valuable experience as they wrapped up their first season of college competition.
Kaufman, who placed 8th at the Frontier Conference meet with a time of 19:43, continued her season-long trend of improvement as she finished the 5k race in 19:20, her fastest time of the season. Among the 321 competitors at the championship race, she finished in the top half as she was the 141st female to cross the finish line. Kaufman was also the 28th freshman to finish the race and the No. 2 freshman out of the Frontier Conference.
The women’s race was won by Kellian Hunt from Biola, who finished in 17:16. Northwest Christian won the overall team National Championship as Frontier Conference teams Carroll College and Lewis-Clark State College finished at No. 5 and No. 16 overall, as the automatic qualifying teams from the conference. (results)
Bielawski, an 11th place finisher at the Frontier Conference meet with a time of 27:19, experience some stiff competition as he finished his 8k race in 27:28 and was the 255th male to cross the finish line. He found himself stuck in a pack of the 326 championship competitors and was never able to fight his way out.
He was the No. 16 finisher from the Frontier Conference that saw the two automatic conference qualifiers Lewis-Clark State and Carroll College finish No. 6 and No. 8 in the nation.
The men’s race was won by Geoffrey Kipchumba from William Carey, as Oklahoma City repeated as team National Champions. (results)
It was a great inaugural season for the Montana Western Bulldogs, who look to make strides heading into their second season of competition in the rough-and-tough Frontier Conference
Bulldog men split at Lewis-Clark State tournament
LEWISTON, Idaho, November 15, 2015 – The University of Montana Western men’s basketball team was unable to get back on track this weekend as they split their two games at the Clearwater River Casino & Lodge Classic hosted by Lewis-Clark State College this weekend.
In the first game the Bulldogs took on Evergreen State College and came away with a 100-89 victory. It was the second time this season that they have reached 100-points. (Stats)
In the win, the Dawgs shot a blistering 56 percent from the field as they knocked down 38 of 67 shot attempts.
Demitrius Balark led the team in points, assists and rebounds as he almost collected a triple-double for the second time this season. Balark totaled 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the game. He also came away with a game-high three steals.
Shyke Smalls followed closely as he poured in 21 points on 7 for 11 shooting and a perfect 7 for 7 from the charity stripe. Smalls also pitched in five rebounds and four assists as the backcourt duo led the Bulldogs.
Dexter Williams, Jr. and Ryan McCarty scored 16 and 14 points respectively to join Balark and Smalls in double figures.
Williams also grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out in 26 minutes of action.
The Bulldogs have been forced to outscore opponents this season as they are giving up 85 points per game.
Evergreen State became the fifth team in six games to make 10-plus three-pointers against the Bulldogs this season.
The Geoducks were led by forward Brock Otis and center Danny Powell who came away with 23 and 22 points respectively. Otis made 8 of 11 shots including 4 of 5 three-pointers. Powell added 11 rebounds to his point total and knocked down two long-range bombs.
In their second game of the weekend, the Bulldogs were unable to hold onto a 50-41 halftime lead as the Warriors from Corban outscored Western 48-34 in the second half and defeat Western 89-84. (Stats)
For the second night in a row and the sixth time in seven games this season, the Bulldogs opponents knocked down 10-plus three-pointers as the Warriors were 12 for 32 from long-range on the night. They were led by Taylor Fox who was 6 of 11 from downtown in route to a team-high 18 points.
It was another great offensive outing for the Dawgs who scored 84 points and shot better than 50 percent from the field (32-62 for 52 percent) and shot 43 percent from three-point territory (10-23). The difference in the game was giving up 11 offensive rebounds for 16 second chance points and turning the ball over 15 times that led to 16 points off of turnovers for Corban.
Shyke Smalls paced the Bulldogs offensively as he scored a career-high 29 points on 10 for 18 shooting, he also grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists.
Kurtis Parsons came off the bench to score 12 points on 4 for 6 from downtown and Dexter Williams tossed in 11 points to round out the double digit scorers for Montana Western.
Big man Quinn Smith grabbed nine rebounds, scored five points and blocked a shot to hang tough in the paint.
Junior Ryan Sullivan, who was making his second consecutive start, shipped in six points and seven rebounds.
Balark was much quieter on the offensive end in the second game as he was limited to four points, but dished out seven assists.
With the loss, Montana Western dropped to 3-4 on the season, and is off until December 3 when they will play host to the University of Great Falls for the start of Frontier Conference action.
Bulldog women continue hot start
LEWISTON, Idaho, November 15, 2015 – The University of Montana Western women’s basketball improved on their 6-0 start to the season after picking up two more non-conference victories this weekend over College of Idaho and Corban College. The Bulldogs played in the Twin Rivers Physical Therapy Classic hosted by Lewis-Clark State.
The 8-0 start to the season is the best since a 7-0 start in 2011-12, in 2006-07 the Bulldogs started 15-0 which is the last time Montana Western qualified for the NAIA National Tournament.
In their first game of the tournament, Montana Western jumped out to an early 46-23 halftime lead in rout to an 85-67 victory over College of Idaho. (Stats)
“We were really clicking in the first half offensively,” stated Coach Lindsay Woolley, “our ball movement and execution was excellent.”
The first half explosion was due to the 18 for 31 shooting from the floor (58 percent), including 8 for 16 from beyond the arc (50 percent). They almost matched their first half output in the second half as they scored 39 points on 14 for 31 from the field (45 percent).
For the game, they shot a whopping 51 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point territory. They held the ‘Yotes to 39 percent from the field, including 28 percent in the first half that allowed the Bulldogs to pull away early.
The defense in the third and fourth quarter was not as stingy as they allowed 44 points and got caught hacking as College of Idaho put down 13 of 18 free throw attempts in the final two frames to outscore Western.
“In the second half, our transition defense was porous, but we scored enough to hold them off,” Woolley said.
The offense was led by junior Molly Klinker who pumped in 30 points on 12 of 20 from the field, including two three pointers. She was joined in double figures by Aniese Palmore (19), Sierra Higheagle (15) and Kaye Bignell (13). Dani Baker and Darby Schye score six and two points respectively to round out the scoring for Montana Western.
Kaye Bignell collected a double-double as she led the team with 10 rebounds to go with her 13 points in the game.
“Kaye’s activity on the boards was huge today,” stated Woolley on Kaye’s efforts as seven of her rebounds were on the offensive end.
Palmore, who has been a force to start the season, neared a triple-double in the game. She added nine rebounds and eight assists on top of her 19 points. Palmore was very efficient as she connect on 7 of 9 shots and 4 for 6 from three.
Klinker also pitched in six rebounds and two steals in the contest.
“It was an excellent team win and I’m very proud of the effort today.”
Just 24 hours later, the Bulldogs returned to the floor to face Corban College (Ore.). Despite a very different path, the outcome still remained the same for the undefeated Bulldogs, as they came away with a 67-63 victory. (Stats)
Only one day after combining for 77 points on 30 for 49 shooting (61 percent) – the quartet of Klinker, Palmore, Bignell and Higheagle – were limited to 37 points on 12 of 39 from the field (30 percent).
“Corban was a really tough matchup for us and it showed tonight,” stated Woolley, “they were well prepared and we had to fight for every basket.”
And fight, they did. Every time Corban would score, Montana Western answered with a counter-punch as they traded the lead five times and were tied up five times in the game. Corban gave one last push defensively as they held the Dawgs without a field goal for the final 4:09 of the game.
Luckily, they were able to convert on seven free throws during that stretch to close the game out and improve to 8-0 on the young season.
“I was really proud of our bench tonight,” stated Woolley on his team’s 24 bench points, “Britt Cooper and Brandy Bookout saved our bacon with some instant offense.”
The duo combined for nine points in a two minute stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters, and saw a 44-42 deficit turn into a 51-47 lead.
Freshman Darby Schye was big off the bench with starter Molly Klinker on the bench due to foul trouble. In 20:34 of playing time, Schye chipped in six points, seven rebounds, one block and one steal.
Corban kept themselves in the game on the offensive glass as they converted 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second chance points. It was not enough to overcome the 20 turnovers forced by the Bulldog defense.
The Bulldogs were led by Higheagle’s 14 points, followed by Klinker’s 11.
Palmore again stuffed the stat sheet despite a poor shooting performance as she totaled seven points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Kaye Bignell pitched in five points, five rebounds and a game-high four steals.
Montana Western will be off this weekend and will return to action on Nov. 27 and 28 as they will travel to College of Idaho for a Thanksgiving tournament.
McCree and Ness honored, volleyball season comes to an end
The 2015 Montana Western volleyball season came to a close on Friday at the hands of Carroll College in the first round of the Frontier Conference Tournament.
The Fighting Saints took the match in straight sets -- 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 -- as they put an end to the young Bulldogs season.
The night before, Kylie McCree was named to the Frontier Conference all-freshman team, for her outstanding performance in her first season on the court for the Bulldogs.
Teammate and lone senior, Mikayla Ness, was also honored on Thursday night as a Champion of Character. Ness was picked as an individual who displays the five core character values that the NAIA embraces -- Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Servant Leadership and Sportsmanship.
In their first-round match-up with No. 2 seed Carroll College, McCree paced the Bulldogs offense with 10 kills, while tallying a hitting percentage of .261. She was followed by Junior Bailey Wilson's 8 kills and Joanna Avery's 6.
Setter Callie Hanson dished out 29 assists and recorded 14 digs, she also had a service ace.
Freshman Dylan Fowler led the Bulldogs floor defense as she corralled 17 digs.
Avery also notched two solo blocks.
Montana Western finished the season with an 8-19 record, including a 1-12 record in conference play.
Diggers defeat Dawgs to claim Frontier Title
BUTTE, Mont., November 14, 2015 – The Frontier Conference championship came down to one play.
Andrew Loudenback found a wide-open Kolby Kansala for a 55-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 42 seconds left, and No. 6 Montana Tech beat No. 10 Montana Western 24-17 in front of a crowd 6,000 plus at Alumni Coliseum. Stats
“We saw it on film,” Kansala, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior from Eagle Creek, Oregon, said of the game-winning score. “We thought that’s what would happen and that’s what happened. It was just a good play call. As soon as I saw the safety turn his head I just cut right behind him.”
The play was clearly set up by the Bulldog defense that was geared up to shut down Tech superstar running back Nolan Saraceni, who was held to a season-low 67 yards.
“They were obviously playing the run,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. “Western was playing the run really strong, and we kind of got them bated in playing down and staying low. It was something we’d been waiting on the whole game.
“It was a critical time and a critical play, and they guys stepped up and made a great play.”
Even though the Bulldogs still had time, Oredigger senior linebacker David Meis said he knew the game was over when No. 88 went streaking down the field untouched.
“It was breath taking,” Meis said of Kansala’s touchdown. “After that, with the defense we’d been running all game, I knew we could make the stop and get the ‘W.’”
The win gives the Orediggers the Frontier Conference title at 9-1. The Orediggers will host a playoff game next week on the Bob Green Field. The home playoff game will be the first for Tech since 1997.
It is a far cry from the 1-9 hole the Orediggers found themselves in this time last season.
“There’s some guys on our team that the last time Tech had a home (playoff) game they weren’t even alive yet. It’s huge for us,” Kansala said. “We thought it would be a dog fight and come down to the very end, and it did. We came out on top. Worst to first.”
“I don’t how many teams did it this year going from 1-9 to 9-1 and having six different guys play quarterback,” Morrell said. “I don’t know who else did that besides us. But we did it.”
The Oredigger coach got emotional when describing his team’s season, which was played mostly with its top two quarterbacks out with injuries.
“Our guys bought into playing for each other, playing team football and just sticking and fighting,” Morrell said. “We epitomized the community of Butte. You’ve got to be tough and you’ve got to be mentally strong. Our guys were mentally strong the entire season.”
Montana Western will have to hope for an unlikely call for an at-large bid when playoff pairings are announced on Sunday.
The Bulldogs are 7-3 with all three losses coming in one-score games against top 10 teams.
“You’d sure like to think that,” Western coach B.J. Roberson said of the possibility of getting an at-large bid. “That (10-9 loss to Carroll College) could be the one that comes down to haunt us.”
The game-winning touchdown was the second of the half for Kansala, as the Orediggers overcame a 17-10 halftime deficit.
He also caught a 27-yard TD pass from Loudenback on third and 19 to tie the game at 17 late in the third quarter.
After the play, Kansala tossed the ball high in the air. That drew a flag for 15 yards for celebration. Fortunately for the Orediggers, the penalty didn’t cost them.
On his second TD, Kansala handed the ball to the official.
“It was just awesome to be out here,” Kansala said. “I’m just waiting to get my number called and when I do I’m just going to do the best I can. It’s all about family for us.”
Kansala also had praise for the Bulldogs as his team celebrated the conference crown.
“Props to them,” he said. “They fought all day long.”
After matching field goals in the first quarter, the Orediggers turned a turnover into a 1-yard Clay Cavender touchdown run for a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
Meis forced a fumble that was recovered by Tyler Sanders to set up the score. One play before the touchdown, Saraceni, who had more than 100 yards in his previous eight games, ran to the 1 yard line on third and nine from the 14.
Western quickly matched when Sam Rutherford busted a 23-yard TD run to tie the game.
Then, it was the Bulldogs’ turn to get a turnover.
Taft Benson picked off a tipped Dawson Reardon pass and returned it seven yards to the Tech 28-yard line.
Reardon, who made his first appearance after being out for a month and a half with a concussion, later left the game with what appeared to be another concussion.
True freshman quarterback Bradley Smith followed Benson’s pick by hitting George Sherwood with a 27-yard strike 4:40 before halftime to put the Bulldogs up 17-10.
“He’s still a freshman but he’s making plays right now,” Meis said of Smith.
Western took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove for what appeared to be another Rutherford touchdown, this time a 15-yard scamper.
The play was called back by a holding penalty, however, and the Oredigger defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
“That was huge,” Robertson said. “One holding all day long, and they called it on a touchdown. Obviously, that’s frustrating.”
Loudenback completed 12 of 19 passes for 155 yards. He was sacked three times.
“I’m really proud of Andrew Loundenback for stepping up again today,” Morrell said of the quarterback turned tight end turned quarterback again. “He’s just been so incredibly clutch. He’s been making some big throws.”
Clay Cavender completed all four of his passes for 59 yards. His 47-yard pass to Alec Bray set up Kansala’s game-tying touchdown.
Sean Sullivan caught three passes, while Carols Martinez and Chris Lachance joined bray and Kansala with two.
Cavender added 37 yards on the ground, while Zach Bunney broke a 28-yard run in the second half.
Smith completed 12 of 27 passes for 163 yards, while Rutherford ran for 70 hard-earned yards on 16 carries.
“I respect that guy,” Meis said of Rutherford. “He definitely is one of the top running backs. I like Nolan, he’s the best right now.”
Joe Coker, A.J. Wilson, Reno Ward, Dakota Wainwright and M.J. Simkins all got in on sacks for the Western defense.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for their program,” Morrell said. “They’re well coached, and I expected this type of game today. There’s no doubt that was the two best teams in the conference going toe to toe.”
Luke Benz, who left the game late with an injury, joined Meis with two sacks on the game. Tyler Gavlak, who once again showed he is worthy of All-American consideration, had a sack to go along with a team-leading nine tackles.
Picking a player of the game for the deep Oredigger defense, though, is almost impossible.
“Everybody,” Meis said. “The whole defense. It’s the best in the conference, and we just proved that right now.”
Despite the loss, Robertson looked back at a classic battle that was billed as the biggest game between the two rivals in more than two decades.
“I’m really proud of both sides,” Roberson said. “The fans got their money’s worth today, that’s for sure.”
The Bulldogs dropped to 7-3 on the season, which is an improvement over their 6-5 season a year ago. The Bulldogs have increased their win total each of the last four seasons.
The Bulldogs will graduate 19 seniors, who started their careers with a losing record, and helped turn around the Montana Western football program.
Seniors Dakota Pineda and Skyler Roope embrace following the 24-17 loss.
Klinker named Frontier Conference Player of the Week
DILLON, Mont., November 9, 2015 – Molly Klinker was named the Frontier Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
Klinker is a 6-foot-1 junior forward from Fairfield, Mont., and a transfer from the University of Montana. The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 with a pair of victories over St. Thomas (Fla.), 70-57 and 82-49.
She averaged 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and two assists. Klinker hit 10 of 18 field goals (56 percent), 4 of 6 3-point field goals (67 percent) and was 2 of 3 from the free thrown line.
On the season, Klinker is averaging 12.67 points and 8.67 rebounds per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from 3-point territory
Ward, Mason named Frontier Conference Players of the Week
DILLON, Mont., November 9, 2015 – Two Montana Western Bulldog football players were named Frontier Conference Players of the week for their performances in a 52-6 rout of Montana State-Northern on Saturday.
Reno Ward, a 6-foot-2, 255 lbs, junior defensive lineman from Deer Lodge, Mont. was named the Defensive Player of the Week. Ward recorded 11 unassisted tackles, two assisted tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in the game. He extended his NAIA-leading sack total, he now has 12 sacks on the season and ranks No. 4 in the NAIA with 19.5 tackles for loss.
Seth Mason, a 6-foot-2, 200 lbs, junior kicker from Hamilton, Mont. was named the Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season. Against Northern, Mason was 7 of 7 on P.A.T’s and was 1 of 1 in field goals (27 yards). He scored 10 points in the game, tying highest scoring output of his career.
Bulldog cross country qualifies two runners for NAIA Cross Country Championships
DILLON, Mont., November 9, 2015 – In the inaugural cross country season for the University of Montana Western Bulldogs, they had two freshmen qualify for the NAIA Cross Country Championships that will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 21, 2015.
After running strong races all season, Mindy Kaufman – a freshman from Alta, Wyo. – helped lead the Bulldog women to a fourth place team finish after running her race in 19:43 to finish No. 8 overall in a field of 47 runners. Kaufman was only runner not from conference champion Carroll College or runners-up Lewis-Clark State College to place in the top-10. She was also the second fastest freshmen in the Frontier, finishing just 30 seconds behind the top overall freshmen.
Also for the women’s team, freshman Beth Jansma just missed out on qualifying for the Cross Country Championships by finishing No. 16 in a time of 20:22, just three seconds short of placing in the top-15. Jansma ran solid all season and will look to be a force next season.
Other competitors were Gabi Gomez-Wint (No. 20), Caleigh Buckmaster (No. 27) and Amanda Stobie (No. 29). Despite being in their first season of competition, the women’s team finished ahead of Rocky Mountain College and Montana State – Northern in the team totals.
Paul Bielawski, a freshman from Shelby, Mont., continued his strong first season for the Bulldogs by finishing No. 10 out of a total 55 runners at the Conference meet. Bielawski completed the race in 27:19, but was just seven seconds out of a No. 7 finish in the meet. Like Kaufman, Bielawski was the second fastest freshmen finished, just two seconds behind the top overall freshmen. He was one of two runners to place in the top-14 that was not from conference champion Lewis-Clark State College and runners-up Carroll College.
Other race competitors for Montana Western were Russell Kujala (No. 22), Dalton Delaney (No. 24), Tanner Lehr (No. 27) and Cole Davis (No. 35). As a team, the Bulldogs finished No. 5, ahead of fellow newcomers Montana State – Northern.
After being competitive all season, the men will look to build off of this year’s momentum to move up the ranks next season.