Dawgs dominate MSUN Lights, 55-3

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Red dusk

Montana Western defensive front turn out the lights on MSU Northern Lights running back Jett Robertson on a play in the first half of the Bulldogs 55-3 win in Dillon on Saturday. M.P. Regan photo

Chunk play

Dillon’s Nate Simkins turns a bubble screen into an 86- yard gain to set up a short touchdown run for Montana Western quarterback Jon Jund. Western won the Saturday night game over Northern, 55-3. J.P. Plutt photo

The University of Montana Western football team scored early and often, and kept its own fans celebrating late and loud Saturday night during its 55-3 victory over Montana State University–Nothern at Vigilante Field.

The Bulldogs (2-0) blared into the Lights’ end zone three times during a short stretch of the first quarter to take a 21-0 lead that already seemed insurmountable, with the UMW defense having already established its dominance over the visitors.

“I loved how the defense brought so much energy,” said Bulldog offensive lineman Ty Lahue, of a Dawg D that limited MSUN to just 27 yards and a single first down in the first quarter.

“They had our backs a few times early in the game and got us going,” continued Lahue, noting how the defense held after the UMW offense came up empty in its first two drives.

“We ended up capitalizing, and that was great.”

Those capitalizations came in the form of a trio of Dawg TD drives across a combined 188 yards of field and just 3:34 of first-quarter clock.

The first took the longest, lasting 9 plays and 71 yards, and climaxed shortly after it looked to have also come up short, with the hosts facing a fourth and two at the MSUN 17.

But the Dawgs went for it with a run through the middle of the line by junior running back Nolan Donisthrope, who broke sharply toward the right sideline and scampered untroubled by would-be tacklers into the end zone to open the game’s scoring.

Western’s second journey to paydirt proved the shortest and swiftest, coming after junior transfer Jackson Thompson forced and recovered a MSUN fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The drive that followed covered 28 yards in a single play—a perfectly weighted pass from QB Jon Jund over the top of the Northern defense to WR Jamison Hermanson as he completed a streak route into the left side of the Light end zone.

“They were playing off, so we called an audible, and I got a good release and Jon threw me a great ball,” recalled Hermanson of the TD pass.

“All I had to do was catch it.”

The third was the next quickest of the three drives, but longest in terms of distance, and the most efficient, covering 89 yards on just two plays—an 86-yard hookup between Jund and former Dillon Beaver standout Nate Simkins, followed by a Jund keeper that covered the final three yards into the end zone as the cheers from the packed homestand crescendoed to another peak.

The visitors made a little noise of their own in the second quarter, when they gained possession deep in Bulldog territory through an Andrew Morgan interception.

But the Lights only managed to gain seven yards on the ensuing drive and a 31-yard Diego Morales field goal to get on the board.

The Dawg defense kept the visitors off the scoreboard as anything more than a flattering juxtaposition the rest of the way.

UMW linebacker Jason Ferris and a fellow junior, transfer Jackson Thompson, both snared interceptions—Thompson’s preceded by a bobbled MSUN pass, Ferris’s followed by his return that nearly turned his pick into a pick six.

“We’re just playing hard and going full blast,” said Ferris of Dawg D that has yielded just 13 points in its first two games this season.

“All the competition we had in spring and fall camp helped a ton, getting guys to play to their full potential,” added the former BCHS All-State standout, who led the home defense with 13 tackles, a sack and his second interception of the young season.

The young reserves who provided that competition to Ferris and other UMW starters this spring and summer got plenty of time to show their stuff in the second half Saturday.

In the third quarter, Donisthrope started and ended another single-play UMW TD drive by busting through the right side of the Light defense for a 58-yard run to glory on his way to totaling 83 yards of rushing, behind a patchwork offensive line that powered the Dawgs to 353 yards and 5 TDs on the ground, while preventing the Lights from registering a single sack.

Donisthrope’s fellow backup running back Phoenix Ruffin totaled just under half that distance in five second-half carries, and powered a third quarter scoring drive capped by a 9-yard TD keeper by backup QB Blake Sentman, who also racked up more than 40 yards on the ground and continued to flash the playmaking abilities that kept him in the running for the starting QB spot late into the preseason.

“We got down to our third quarterback tonight, and I don’t know if he’s our third quarterback anymore, because he played pretty dang good. And we got down to our fifth and sixth running backs and those guys performed, too” said Montana Western Head Coach Ryan Nourse, who used eight ballcarriers in the game, including starting tailback Kylar Prante (87 yards on 12 carries).

“It just goes to show what kind of team we have. Although we are young and have some maturity issues, our players are picking things up fast. They really believe and want to have a great team,” said Nourse, now in his fifth season as leader of UMW’s football program.

“I think with our depth and the kind of football players we have now, we’re a lot different team than we’ve been in a long time,” continued Nourse, who asserted that he not only believes his team will continue to get better, but that it better get better fast, with Rocky Mountain College coming to Dillon on Saturday.

“Rocky is going to be tough. We made a big jump in our level of play from Week 1 to Week 2,” commented Nourse, comparing Western’s 52-point win over MSUN to its 6-point triumph at Carroll College in its season opener the previous Saturday.

“But we’re going to have to make a huge jump this week if we’re going to compete with Rocky,” added Nourse of a Battlin’ Bears team that has opened the season with three wins by double-digit margins, one of which it was forced to forfeit due to fielding an ineligible player.

“Because if we make the same kind of mistakes we made today, Rocky is going to eat our lunch.”

The Bulldogs will carry not only the motivation of protecting their lunch and remaining undefeated going into the Rocky game, but a powerful desire for some comeuppance against a team that beat them in last year’s season finale on their own field.

“That one hurt. That was our Senior Night, so hopefully we can get them back this year,” said UMW linebacker Riley Martello, who was forced to watch last year’s 48-42 overtime loss to Rocky from the Vigilante Field sidelines while recovering from injury.

“Yeah,” agreed Ferris, “we definitely owe them one.”


**UMW’s Mark Kharchenko, who is serving as both the Dawgs’ top placekicker and punter, won Frontier Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his contributions against MSUN on Saturday, when the sophomore nailed all seven of his PATs and both his field goal attempts, on top of booming two punts for 85 yards.

**With the game already well in hand, a young trio kept Bulldog fans at Vigilante Field celebrating through the second half of Saturday’s victory over MSUN. Jayden Cooke, 5, four-year-old Azara Hugelen and Carlie VanHorne, 3, led the homestand in a series of wave celebrations.

**MSU Northern also got a nice turnout at Saturday’s game, with most of its fans who half-filled the away stand making the approximately six-hour drive to Dillon from Havre. Though at least one Lights fan came from a lot further away.

“I drove 15 hours from Phoenix for the game,” said Robert Robertson, father of MSUN junior running back Jett Robertson, who returned to the Light starting lineup this season after missing the entire 2017 campaign recovering from back surgery and in late August won the Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Week award for 167-yard, 3-touchdown performance in MSUN’s season-opening win over Mayville State.

“I’ve been supporting the team ever since Jett became a Lights player,” said Robertson, who believes that MSUN after a couple of tough seasons, will improve dramatically this year under its new head coach, Andrew Rolin.

“We love this coach. He’s gotten the kids to believe in the team. He’s got passion for the game. He gets the kids excited to play.”


First Quarter

UMW – Nolan Donisthrope 17-yd TD run (Mark Kharchenko PAT) 4:59

UMW – Jamison Hermanson 28-yd TD pass from Jon Jund (Kharchenko PAT) 4:46 UMW – Jund 3-yd TD run (Kharchenko PAT) 1:35

Second Quarter

UMW – Walker McKitrick 32-yd TD pass from Jund (Kharchenko PAT) 13:45

MSUN – Diego Morales 32-yd FG ????? UMW – Kharchenko 23-yd FG ????

Third Quarter

UMW – Kylar Prante 5-yd TD run {Kharchenko PAT) 9:10

UMW – Donisthrope 58-yd TD run {Kharchenko PAT) 7:02

Fourth Quarter

UMW – Kharchenko 23-yd FG 13:20 UMW – Blake Sentman 9-yd TD run {Kharchenko PAT) 9:22

Team Stats


First downs 27 13 Rushes-yds (net) 40-343 35-71 Passing yds (net) 310 209 Pass Comp-Att-Int15-33-3 16-39-2 Total off plays-yds 73-653 74-280 INT returns-yds 2-7 3-11 Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1 Punts-yds 3-113 10-378 Punt returns-yds 6-54 1-11 Kick returns-yd 2-40 6-95 Penalties-yds 6-50 6-80

UMW Individual Stats Rushing (att.–yds) – Kylar Prante 12-87, Nolan Donisthorpe 5-83, Blake Sentman 5-42, Phoenix Ruffin 6-41, Devyn Christian 4-48, Sean Miller 2-28, Jon Jund 3-17, Sean Cooney 3-7. Passing (comp.-att.-INT-yds) – Jund 13-25-2-286, Sentman 1-1-0-15, Sean Miller 1-7-1-9. Receiving – Nate Simkins 2-92, Walker McKitrick 3-80, Jamison Hermanson 3-75, Jake Messerly 2-22. Trey Mounts 1-15, Prante 1-14, Melvin Walser 3-12,