Morningside holds on for 40-35 win

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Montana Tech’s 2012 football season has come to an end.

A ferocious Oredigger comeback attempt came up just short as No. 3 Morningside beat No.14 Montana Tech 40-35 today in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.

Montana Tech’s season ends at 8-3.

Morningside clinched the victory with a sack and a strip to take over possession at Tech’s 8-yard line with 2 minutes left in the game and the Orediggers out of time outs.

That play came after the Oredigger defense forced a three and out moments after turning the ball over on downs.

Montana Tech came up short on a fourth-and-1 play at the Morningside 40. That play was just moments after the Orediggers saw a 53-yard go-ahead touchdown run by quarterback Nick Baker called back by a holding penalty.

Tech trailed 34-20 at halftime. After a safety on a bad snap gave the Orediggers 2 points, Pat Hansen scored on a 6-yard run to cut the lead to 34-29. The TD was Hansen’s fourth of the game.

Morningside answered after a long pass and a personal foul set up a 1-yard run by Fred Jones to make it 40-29 with 9 minute, 32 seconds left in the game.

Tech came back with a 26-yard TD pass from Baker to James Roberts. The 2-point conversion failed, making the score 40-35, where it stood.

The game started out so well for the Orediggers. But Morningside showed off its quick-strike ability, outscoring Montana Tech 34-7 in the second quarter to turn a 13-0 Oredigger lead into the 14-point halftime advantage.

The Orediggers got on the board first when Baker hit a wide-open Hansen for a 63-yard touchdown pass.

Tech made it 13-0 — the PAT was blocked — when Hansen scored on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter. The score came moments after Baker ran for 23-yards on fourth-and-20 from the 27.

Fred Jones put the Mustangs on the board with an 8-yard run before Sean Elliott picked off a tipped pass 25 yards for a touchdown. The PAT failed, tying the game at 13.

Joel Nixon then hit Kyle Schuck for a 10-yard score before finding Joel McCade for a 38-yard TD strike to put Morningside up 27-13.

The Orediggers pulled to within 27-20 on Hansen’s third touchdown, a 22-yard scamper 57 seconds before halftime.

Tech’s high didn’t last long, though, as Colby Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

Hansen ended the game with 133 yards on 29 carries.

Baker passed 28 of 49 passes for 300 yards. He hit senior Trent Thomas 10 times for 81 yards. Roberts caught five passes for 69 yards.

Nixon passed for 156 yards and ran for 115.