Orediggers avenge loss

La GRANDE, Ore. — For the second time this season, the Montana Tech dominated the stat sheet in a Frontier Conference football game against Eastern Oregon.

This time, however, the Orediggers also got the win.

The No. 8 Orediggers amassed 497 yards of offense and controlled the ball for more than 37 of the game’s 60 minutes as they beat Eastern Oregon 28-20 Saturday at Community Stadium.

“I’m very proud of our young squad for going on a long road trip and getting a win,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said as the Oredigger left for the 563-mile ride back to the Mining City. “We felt like we had some dominant performances in several phases of the game.”

The win was the first in four tries against the Mountaineers for Morrell’s Orediggers.

” It was a great to get the EOU monkey off our backs,” Tech’s second-year head coach said.

Tech dominated the stats in the season opener against Eastern Oregon Sept. 1 in Butte. The Orediggers, though, committed five turnovers and the Mountaineers escaped town with a 26-23 last-second win.

The Mountaineers made the Oredigger faithful sweat again this time.

Behind backup quarterback Ray Walser’s two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, Eastern turned a 28-7 deficit into a 28-20 nailbiter.

Then, the Mountaineers recovered an onside kick at their own 45-yard line with 1 minute, 2 seconds left in the game.

The Oredigger defense, though, would have no part of another Mountaineer miracle.

“Things got a little exciting at the end, but our guys understand how to finish,” Morrell said.

Nick Baker and Pat Hansen had big days leading the Orediggers.

Baker completed 38 of 48 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off twice.

Hansen ran the ball 38 times for 158 yards and a touchdown. That raised his season total to 749 yards and nine touchdowns. Hansen also caught six passes for 55 yards.

“Pat Hansen was a monster, and the O-line gave him some great running lanes,” Morrell said.

Kevin Moss, who returned from injury, Trent Thomas and Zack Kinney caught touchdown passes. Thomas hauled in 11 passes for 90 yards, while Kinney caught seven for 74 yards. Kinney grabbed four for 48.

Nate Thompson picked off a pair of passes for the Orediggers, while Nate Kobold recorded a team-high 10 tackles. David Meis, who shared a sack with Logan Sims, and Mike Touzinsky tallied eight tackles. Niall Padden added a sack.

“Defensively we kept them in check for a big portion of the game,” Morrell said.

Hansen put the Orediggers up for good with an 11-yard run with 3:02 left in the first quarter. The extra point failed, leaving Tech with a 6-0 lead despite controlling the ball nearly the entire first quarter.

Baker hit Moss over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown 1:07 before halftime to send the Orediggers to the locker room with a 13-0 lead.

Tech wasted little time making that 19-0. Thomas hauled in a 5-yard Baker TD pass just over two minutes into the second half.

The Mountaineers got on the board when Jason Simonis scored on a 1-yard run with 5:41 left in the third quarter.

The Orediggers, though, put the dagger into the Mountaineers with a safety that was quickly followed up by Baker’s 4-yard TD pass to Kinney to make it 28-7 with 12:40 left in the game. Or at least if felt like a dagger.

Eastern, like it always does against Tech, fought back.

The Mountaineers cut the lead to 28-14 on Walser’s 20-yard pass to Jace Billingsley with 5:51 left in the game. EOU got the ball back, and Walser hit Billingsley for a 12-yard score with 1:03 left.

The extra point failed, leaving Tech with an 8-point lead when the Mountaineers recovered the onside kick.

Thanks to the Tech defense, that did not to matter.

The win was Tech’s sixth straight since that Sept. 1 loss, putting the Orediggers at 6-1 with three games left in the regular season. Eastern Oregon fell to 3-4, likely ending the Mountaineers’ playoff hopes.

Tech is back at home the next two games, taking on MSU-Northern and Montana Western. Tech closes out the season Nov. 10 against Southern Oregon in Ashland, Ore.