The Montana Tech Orediggers opened up the 2022 season by dominating the Mountaineers of Eastern Oregon 38-3.
Jet Campbell ran for two touchdowns and tossed two to lead the Oredigger attack. Blake Counts ran hard all night finishing with 97 yards and a touchdown rushing and another receiving. Trevor Hoffman led the Digger receivers once again with 8 grabs for 122 yards.
The Digger defense dominated the Mountaineers, forcing 3 interceptions and recovering an EOU fumble.
“We did dominate,” Oredigger head coach Kyle Samson said in a phone call after the game. “It was a great team effort in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams. I’m proud of our guys and our coaching staff.
“What a great way to set the tone for the season. All phases played well. We got four turnovers and we didn’t give up one on offense. That was huge.”
Campbell’s TD throws were of 4 yards to Counts and 18 to tight end Kennedy, both in the first quarter while the Orediggers built a 14-0 halftime lead.
He ran for 32 yards on six carries, including touchdowns of 4 and 2 yards.
Counts tallied two touchdowns, the 4-yard pass grab from Campbell for his teams’ first six points of the season, then bookending with a 10-yard carry for the last TD of the game.
The Montana Tech defense held Eastern Oregon to 83 rushing yards and 108 through the air. Four potential Mountaineer scoring drives were stopped on turnovers as Oredigger Jake Orvis intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, both in the first quarter. Matt Whitcomb picked off a “Stats” pass for the Orediggers later in the game.
Montana Tech’s first touchdown was set up by a Campbell pass to Hoffman to inside the Eastern Oregon 25-yard line. Counts then ran the ball to the 8-yard line and a horse-collar penalty took the ball to the 4. Campbell lobbed a pass to Counts in the end zone and Ryan Lowry kicked his first of five extra points. The clock showed 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
Four minutes later, Campbell found Kennedy for an 18-yard scoring connection set up by a 23-yard pass to Kyle Torgerson. Lowry’s extra point made it a 14-0 game.
Eastern Oregon auditioned three quarterbacks in the game, but none led the team to any points against the stout Montana Tech defense.
Orvis’ interception halted a Mountaineer drive on the Oredigger 35-yard line. Montana Tech was unable to generate a drive, but Orvis stonewalled Eastern Oregon again by recovering a fumble on the Orediggers’ 8-yard line. It was the closest Eastern Oregon ever got to the goal line.
The teams ended the half with Montana Tech holding the 14-0 advantage.
Campbell hooked up with Hoffman on a 40-yard pass after halftime that carried the Orediggers to the Eastern Oregon 12-yard line. Campbell took off a couple plays later for a 4-yard burst to the end zone. Lowery was good on the kick and Montana Tech led 21-0. Lowry was good on his next kick, too – a 33-yard field goal that put his team’s lead at 24-0 with 5:44 left in the third period.
The Mountaineers struck for their only points just before the end of the quarter. Quarterback Luke Ross passed to Anthony Peterson for a 45-yard pickup to Montana Tech’s 18-yard line. Eastern Oregon was unable to capitalize and eventually settled for a 30-yard field goal by Ethan Cutler.
Montana Tech led 24-3 heading into the last quarter.
Hand offs to Counts ground out a sustained drive for the Orediggers that they capped with Campbell rolling out and then into the end zone. Lowry kicked the extra point for a 31-3 Oredigger command with 11:37 on the clock.
Nakoa Harmer came up with Montana Tech’s third turnover when he intercepted a Mountaineer pass at Eastern Oregon’s 30-yard line. The Orediggers set up shop there and used a 20-yard Campbell-to-Hoffman pass play to reach the 10. Counts made up the final distance on a crash-and-dash over the goal line. Lowry put up the last point of the game.
“We had a really good fall camp,” Samson said. “I think tonight’s win was indicative of how hard our guys have worked. We’re going to enjoy this win tonight, celebrate it a little bit and it will make the long trip home a lot easier.
“Then, when we get home, we’ll have to get back to work for a tough game next week.”
Montana Tech will make its home debut next Saturday in its annual Copper Game. The Orediggers will be taking on conference rival and league co-leader Carroll in the 1 p.m. kickoff at Bob Green Field. Carroll toppled 17th-ranked Montana Western 16-10 on Saturday.