Montana Tech’s football season closed today with yet another difficult loss.
The Orediggers fell to 3-7 on the season with a 31-10 defeat to the hands of Southern Oregon at Alumni Coliseum.
Despite a stalwart effort by the Oredigger defense, Montana Tech couldn’t slow down the NAIA’s No. 1 offense enough for a Senior Day win.
“I’m really proud of my defense today,” Montana Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. “Those guys just fought their butts off. We held them to 20 points below their average. That’s a dynamic team. They’re going to make some plays once in a while.”
The Oredigger defense forced seven Southern Oregon punts and held the Raiders to more than 100 yards shy of its season average. According to the game plan, Tech made SOU earn each point.
The only “explosive” scoring play, though, came at the worst possible time. Melvin Mason busted a 60-yard touchdown run just 24 seconds after Montana Tech pulled within on score at 17-10 early in the third quarter.
The Raiders added a 5-yard Sean Tow touchdown run on a trick play to extend the lead to three touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter.
Southern Oregon, which fell in double overtime the last two times it played in Butte, didn’t trail.
Austin Dodge, who was held to 217 yards passing, hit Tow for a 12-yard pass with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first quarter. The scoring drive went for 88 yards after a 55-yard punt by Travis Farewell.
Using Herman Tapley, Brian Schwarzkoph and Clay Cavender at quarterback, the Orediggers drove 79 yards on 13 plays to tie the score.
One play after Cavendar, who ran the Wildcat offense while behind center, ran for nine yards to set up a 2-yard TD scamper by Pat Hansen 29 seconds into the second quarter.
Dodge and the Raiders answered right back, though, and the QB hit Mason for a 5-yard TD pass to cap a 65-yard drive.
Aldrick Rosas added a 41-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 17-7 lead at halftime.
A 30-yard field goal by Matt Berg cut the lead to 17-10 with 11:42 left in the third
Then Mason busted free.
Montana Tech put up 351 yards of offense. Schwarzkoph passed for 144 yards and ran for 51.
Hansen, a junior ran for 59 yards to break the century mark for third straight season. He ended the season at 1,009 yards.
Zack Kinney caught five passes for 30 yards on a record-breaking day. Kinney closed the season with a school-record 75 receptions, breaking the mark of 72 set by Casey Kelly in 2006.
Cavender caught four passes, while Alec Bray and Kevin Moss each caught thre
Defensively, Mike Touzinsky had a big day. He was in on 14 tackles. David Meis was in on six, while Ryan Jones and Tyler Patenaude was in on five.
Niall Padden had one of his finest days as an Oredigger. He sacked Dodge for a loss of 9 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
In all, the Orediggers probably got defensive contributions from 25 to 30 players.
“We’ve got to keep them fresh,” Morrell said. “They probably played somewhere between 90 and 100 snaps today.”
The Raiders, who will likely miss the season after going 7-4 overall and 7-3 in conference, actually ran 88 snaps. Tech ran 80, keeping up with Southern Oregon everywhere but on the scoreboard.
The game was the finale for 14 seniors on the roster and two juniors — Patenaude and Abe Ward — who will graduate this school year.
Also saying goodbye for the Orediggers are Schwarzkoph, Jones, Moss, Padden, Kinney, Devonte Craig, Luke Seubert, Logan Sims, Joe Mitzel, Tyson Shriver, Jacob Workman, James Roberts, Leif Knatterud and Mike Waldman.
“I’m going to miss the seniors like crazy. I love them,” an emotional Morrell said after the game. “God, we’ve got some young, talented kids too. I’m excited about going into next season with those guys.”