Heartbreaker in Butte: Montana Tech Football Falls to College of Idaho in Hall of Fame Game | Montana Technology
BUTT – The Orediggers looked set to snag their first home win of the season on Saturday, until injuries, a fumble and all-out misfortune led the Yotes to a heartbreaking 28-23 win.
Montana Tech held a 23-21 lead with two minutes remaining. Attempting to milk the clock, the Orediggers raced for several first downs until running back Blake Counts was injured.
On the next play, the College of Idaho forced a fumble that he returned 49 yards for a touchdown. The Yotes then intercepted a last-minute Hail Mary attempt to seal the game.
âI just told the guys I love them after the game,â Montana Tech coach Kyle Samson said. “I had no good words to say to them. They played very, good football for 55 minutes. But I told them that I love them and that we have to stay together, that’s all we can do. . “
The time of the week off can be a blessing for Montana Tech. In addition to Counts, wide receiver Mark Estes left the game with an injury. Quarterback Jet Campbell received a heavy blow in the third quarter, but finished the game and looked to be doing well.
âI haven’t had a word on the injuries yet,â Samson said. “They both came in late in the game. I hope everything is going well with these guys.”
College of Idaho edged Montana Tech 333-263 in total yards. The Yotes’ Ryan Hibbs had 221 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while Campbell pitched for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
The Yotes dominated possession time and forced two fumbles in defense. The Orediggers had the advantage over special teams, often starting on the Yotes side to start practices while also forcing a poor field position for the Yotes.
âWe pinned them down a lot and the cover crews did a great job,â Samson said. “The kicker team did a phenomenal job, I was really proud of them today.”
Despite the loss, the Orediggers enjoyed many shining moments throughout the game. The first came on their first practice which covered 51 yards and ended with a touchdown pass from Campbell to Estes.
A long punt return allowed the Orediggers to start a practice in the second quarter at the 50-yard line. Campbell found Logan Kennedy on a short pass, then Kennedy passed two defenders and into the end zone to give the Orediggers a 13-7 lead.
With just a minute to go, Montana Tech defensive back Naoki Harmer intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Orediggers a 20-7 halftime lead.
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort, loss has nothing to do with their effort,” said Samson. “We were up against a very good team. We have to regroup and get back to work.”
College of Idaho scored the first goal in the second half and forced a Montana Tech punt on their first practice. But an interception from Jordan Washington has put the Orediggers in a great position on the field for their next practice. The practice ended with a field goal for the Orediggers.
One of the game’s most crucial games came midway through the fourth quarter. The Orediggers forced a turnover on the downs, but a pass interference call gave the Yotes a first down. In the next game, the Yotes scored for 23-21 Montana Tech.
âWe just didn’t make it through the games at the end to win the game,â Samson said. âBut I’m still proud of our guys, still proud to be a ‘Digger. We now have two weeks to find a way to improve ourselves so that we can secure a victory over Southern Oregon. I know we’ll find a way to move this thing forward. “
The Orediggers’ next opponent Southern Oregon (3-3) lost to Montana Western on Saturday. Southern Oregon lost to College of Idaho 29-3 earlier this season, which could be a good sign for the Orediggers.
While the Orediggers were unable to win in the annual Hall of Fame game, the 2021 inductees were honored at halftime and enjoyed the festivities throughout the week. Wade Bristol, Don Hawkinson, the 1997-98 and 1998-99 men’s basketball teams were all honored on Saturday.
Bristol, a native of Butte, played football for Tech from 1976 to 1979 and was an assistant coach in 1980. The three-time performer of All Conferences was a leader for the Orediggers and helped them win a Frontier Conference title in 1979.
Don Hawkinson has been a staunch advocate and contributor to the Digger Athletic Association, according to Montana Tech Sports Information.
âIt’s a really good deal where some of the old Orediggers are coming back so that we can honor them,â Samson said. “It’s a great tradition to have. These are guys who have played before us, so it’s always nice to see them and appreciate them the way they deserve.”
Montana Tech is now 2-4 this season and will face southern Oregon on the road on October 23. The College of Idaho is now 4-2 and will face Montana Western on the same day.