7-3 , 6
7-3 , 5
Game Recap: Football |
HELENA, Mont. – The Carroll College Football team fell in the final game of the 2023 regular season 23-17 to Montana Tech on Saturday afternoon in Helena.
The Fighting Saints (7-3, 5-3) saw a number of scoring chances come up empty, and ran out of time in their comeback effort over the Orediggers (7-3, 6-2).
Montana Tech got on the board first, with a 15-play, 60-yard drive culminating in a Ryan Lowry 27-yard field goal to give the Orediggers a 3-0 following the 7:20 opening drive.
The Saints would respond with a lengthy drive of their own, but for the second-straight week, a Spencer Berger (Billings, Mont. / SO) field goal attempt would be blocked and the Saints would remain scoreless.
Carroll’s first points of the game would come with just 51 seconds remaining in the opening half. Jack Prka (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho / JR) capped a six-play, 43-yard drive with a far corner connection with Chris Akulschin (Gig Harbor, Wash. / R-SO) from 11 yards out to give Carroll a 7-3 lead.
Elijah Larson (Sandpoint, Idaho / R-SO) picked off Blake Thelen just before halftime, and the Saints would carry a 7-3 lead into the break.
Disaster would strike on the Saints’ opening play of the second half, when a first-down completion turned into a fumble, instantly giving the Orediggers the ball near midfield. Four plays later, Landers Smith would cash in a two yard rushing touchdown to give Tech a 10-3 lead.
A promising Carroll drive on the ensuing possession would again turn sour in an instant, with a tipped ball intended for Carson Ochoa (Yorba Linda, Calif. / R-SO) in the endzone would result in an interception.
Montana Tech took advantage of the second-straight turnover, with an eight-play 80-yard drive finishing with a 31 yard touchdown to extend their lead to 17-7.
10 plays and 70 yards later, Carroll would narrow the lead back to just three, with Ryan Rickman (Salem, Ore. / R-JR) catching a touchdown pass in the back of the endzone from six yards out.
Landers Smith scored his second rushing touchdown of the game on the ensuing Montana Tech possession, and after a blocked PAT, Tech would lead 23-14 with seven minutes remaining.
Carroll’s next drive would stall out near the redzone, and needing two scores, the staff elected to send out Berger for a 29-yard field goal to cut the Tech lead to 23-17.
The Saints would be unable to get a stop with the few minutes remaining, and Montana Tech would close out the 23-17 win.
Jack Prka went 27-39 for 273 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Duncan Kraft (Billings, Mont. / R-SR) led the Saints on the ground with 70 yards, and Chris Akulschin finished his afternoon with seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Carroll will now await the results of the NAIA Football Championship selection show, hoping to hear their name called for the postseason tournament.
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