ASHLAND, Ore. — Saturday could not have started off much worse for the Montana Tech football team.
Tech’s first possession ended with a blocked punt, and Southern Oregon quickly turned it into points when Jackson Clemmer caught a 5-yard touchdown from Matt Struck for a 7-0 lead.
The rest of the day, however, belonged to the Orediggers.
Jet Campbell passed for four first half touchdowns, and Landers Smith ran for his first college score, and the Orediggers rolled to a 34-14 Frontier Conference win over the Raiders at a windy Raider Stadium. (Stats)
“We didn’t start the game how we wanted to,” Tech coach Kyle Samson said. “But their resilience showed.”
The Orediggers answered the Raider touchdown in less than 2 minutes of game time. Campbell hit Kyle Torgerson who raced 58 yards for a touchdown. Jared Griffith’s extra point tied the game.
Just 3 minutes later, the Orediggers took the lead for good when Campbell found Trevor Hoffman for a 39-yard score.
Smith punched in a 1-yard run to make it 21-7 with 23 seconds left on the first quarter clock.
Hoffman caught a 44-yard pass from Campbell before the quarterback hit Mark Estes for a 9-yard strike. That put the Orediggers up 34-7 at halftime.
“I was really, really happy with Jet,” Samson said. “He did a great job throwing the ball. The offensive line did a great job protecting him all day, and the receivers made some big catches.”
Campbell completed 16 of 30 passes for 247 yards he was picked off twice.
Torgerson and Hoffman each caught three passes. Torgerson racked up 89 yards, which was one more than Hoffman. Kiley Caprara caught four passes for 40 yards, and Kaleb Winterburn caught four for 14.
Logan Kennedy joined Estes with one catch.
Winterburn returned from injury and ran for 67 yards on 15 carries. Tyler Folkes gained 61 yards with starter Blake Counts on the sideline with an injury. Smith ran for 18 yards.
“Without having Blake in there, those guys did great,” Samson said.
Smith is an H-back who has been playing tailback with Counts injured.
“He’s a big, tough runner,” Samson said. “He did a great job getting his first carries today.”
The only score of the second half came when Blake Asciutto hit Bryce Goggin for a 25-yard pass early in the third quarter. Asciutto was in the game in place Struck, who appeared to injure his shoulder.
No matter who took the snaps for the Raiders, the Orediggers got after him. Tech racked up four sacks. Jordan Washington, Spencer Schock, Logan Kolodejchuk, Bridger Johnson and Cole Wyant all got in on those sacks.
Samson pointed out that the sack went for big losses and all seemed to come at key times.
“They got after that quarterback all day,” the coach said. “Then we had some turnovers that was huge. They really pushed the guy out of the pocket all day.”
Washington, who led the team with seven total tackles, including two for a loss, forced a fumble that was recovered by Naoki Harmer. Johnson forced a fumble and recovered it.
Schock, playing his first game since suffering an injury early in the season, got in on six tackles.
The Orediggers also blocked a punt, which was credited to Kadin Lahti.
“That was a good win for us,” Samson said. “Our guys came out and played really well. Our staff had us really well prepared. In all phases they played well.”
Samson credited his staff for stepping up and filling in for the coach who had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon Oct. 11.
“I’m really proud of our staff,” Samson said. “Our assistant coaches did a great job getting our guys prepared. They had a great game plan.”
The Orediggers improved to 3-4 on the season. Southern Oregon fell to 3-4. The win was Tech’s fourth straight over Southern Oregon.
Tech will be at home next Saturday as the Orediggers look for the season sweep of Rocky Mountain College. After a trip to Montana Western on Nov. 6, the Orediggers will close the season at home Nov. 13 against MSU-Northern.