Diggers win ninth straight, secure home playoff game

Diggers win ninth straight, secure home playoff game
(Butte Sports file photo)

ASHLAND, Ore. — Make it nine in a row for the Montana Tech football team.

The No. 6-ranked Orediggers wrapped up the regular season with a 38-27 Frontier Conference victory over Southern Oregon Saturday. Stats

The Raiders were celebrating Senior Day and Homecoming.

Quinn McQueary passed for two touchdowns and ran for one more, while Nolan Saraceni ran for 99 yards and two scores to lead the Frontier Conference champion Orediggers (9-1), who haven’t lost since the season opener.

Montana Tech will host a first-round playoff game on the Bob Green Field next Saturday. The team will find out its opponent on Sunday.

“I don’t care who we play,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

Morrell was more concerned that the location of that game will be Alumni Coliseum.

“That was our battle cry all week,” Morrell said. “It was our responsibility for us to have another home game next week in front of our incredible fans.”

The Raiders, who played in the last two national championship games, did something no team has done in nine games. Southern Oregon held a lead on the Orediggers.

Actually, the Raiders held three leads, the first came when Marcus Montano booted a field goal to give the Southern Oregon an early 3-0 advantage.

Tech jumped on top 7-3 a little more than 2 minutes later when McQueary hit Chris Kelly for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 7 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first quarter.

After another field goal by Southern Oregon, tech built a 17-6 advantage with a 1-yard Saraceni run and a 27-yard Derrick Holt field goal.

Southern Quarterback Jack Singler hit Matt Retzlaff for a 36-yard score 25 seconds before halftime to cut the Tech lead to 17-13 at the break.

Southern took advantage of an interception and took a 20-17 advantage on a 14-yard Singler pass early in the third quarter.

“We couldn’t have started the quarter any worse,” Morrell said. “We haven’t trailed, and the guys bounced back from that.”

The game bounced back an fourth when McQueary scored on a 6-yard run followed by a 53-yard pass from Singler to Jason Shelly.

Tech took the lead for good with 7:08 left in the third quarter when McQueary hit Dion Williams for a 15-yard score to make t 31-27 Tech.

A 4-yard Saraceni run capped the scoring with 2:14 left in the third.

McQueary, who now has 24 touchdown passes comparted to seven interceptions on the season, completed 21 of 31 passes for 333 yards. He also ran 16 times for 65 yards.

Williams hauled in eight passes for 133 yards. Mitch Keaton caught four passes, while Kelly and Kolby Kansala each caught two.

Braden Feisthamel, a freshmen who played six-man football in high school, racked up 49 yards on nine carries.

“We just had a bunch of guys who contributed today,” Morrell said. “We got some well-rounded play. Dion was tremendous. Quinn was very good too.”

Gunnar Kayser, who led the team with six tackles, added a game-clinching interception late in the fourth quarter.

Morrell praised his entire team for overcoming some adversity that included riding on the bus for about 18 hours to get to Ashland.

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Morrell said. “I’m very proud of the guys.”

In other Frontier Conference action, Eastern Oregon likely secured a playoff berth with a 27-17 win over Carroll College in Helena, while Montana Western will find itself again on the playoff bubble with a 26-10 win at Rocky Mountain College.

Also, the College of Idaho won 31-13 at MSU-Northern.

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