Dawgs pillage Raiders, 38-7

By 
M.P. Regan
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The capper

Montana Western quarterback Jon Jund, a junior from Spring Creek, Nevada, threw for two touchdowns and ran for 108 yards and the final score of Western’s 38-7 win over Southern Oregon on this 15 yard scamper into the end zone. J.P. Plutt photo

Boom baby

Montana Western’s defense and special teams kept Southern Oregon out of the end zone for most of the game on Saturday at Vigilante Field and repeatedly set their offense up with excellent field position. In the photo above, Western defenders stuff a running play. J.P. Plutt photo

STATS

“It’s A Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll”—unlikely, unsettling bagpipe solo and all—blared at high noon over the PA system at Vigilante Field, shortly before the start of the showdown there between the University of Montana Western and Southern Oregon University football teams on Saturday.

Considering the unlikely and often unsettling manner in which the Bulldogs’ played this season up until then, that AC/DC tune may have served as a challenge about how far to the top remained to be traveled for a Montana Western team with perhaps the most talent in the Frontier Conference.

With the bagpipe solo serving as a dirge for the Dawgs’ fondest hopes should they fail to win against SOU.

But the Bulldogs then went out to take just one small step back followed by a few dozen straight ahead, stampeding to 38 unanswered points across the final three quarters on the way to summiting SOU, 38-7.

“That was better. That’s how I like us to play,” said UMW Head Coach Ryan Nourse moments after his Dawgs wrapped up the key win to stabilize their footing on the foothills of the NAIA Top 25 while continuing to climb toward a spot in the 16-team NAIA playoffs.

“I think we did a good job as coaches this week making some changes and our players did a good job of making the changes that they needed to make,” added Nourse of adjustments in strategy and attitude that helped his maddeningly inconsistent team keep the Raiders (3-3) from leaving Dillon with any loot.

That win didn’t quite get UMW (5-2 overall, 4-2 in the Frontier) to the top of the league standings.

But the win did keep the Dawgs just a game behind league-leading Rocky Mountain College (5-1) and knotted with second-place College of Idaho (4- 2)—with matchups against both teams still looming among the four games remaining on Montana Western’s 2021 regular-season schedule.

And it was quite a win, pretty much a must-win, and a win that emphatically affirmed that the Bulldogs do indeed possess the talent this season and will to grab the Frontier Conference crown and NAIA playoff berth that have evaded them for so long.

“That was one of our best performances since I’ve been here,” said redshirt junior UMW QB Jon Jund, now in his fifth year with the program, of Saturday’s triumph over SOU, a national champion in 2014, finalist in the NAIA playoffs the following season and semifinalist in 2017.

“We just came together as a team today—offense, defense, special teams, everybody did their jobs. That’s what we preach, DYD—Do Your Duty,” said UMW’s Sean Cooney, a particularly rabid JYD on special teams who often arrived first upon SOU kickoff returners to drop them deep in their own turf on Saturday.

“When you are on special teams, you just run down there and do your job. You can’t think. When you think, you don’t make the play. It just has to be pure instinct—fly to the ball, and good things will happen,” said Cooney, who made a number of fine plays on special teams Saturday.

“Sean Cooney was whacking people all over the place. It’s great to see a senior lay it all out on Vigilante Field,” said Nourse of the Phillipsburg product and ace on the special teams that put Western in position to succeed, time and time again, on Saturday.

“Special teams—that’s the one area that each week is getting better and better and better and better,” said Nourse of a unit that helped Western post a critical and overwhelming 400-plusyards advantage in field position on Saturday, when the Bulldogs commenced their 14 drives an average of more 30 yards further up the field than SOU did.

“Those guys really came out today and did what they are supposed to do,” said Nourse of his spirited and highly effective special teamers.

“Go hard, go to the right spot, be physical and have fun,” added Nourse, whose offense also executed its game plan with extreme efficiency and prejudice.

“We slowed the game down on offense. Maybe we didn’t’ score as many points as we could have, but we protected the football,” said Nourse, whose team didn’t yield a single turnover for the first time this season.

“We have a great offense, but for the first six games we didn’t really show that. Today, I think we did,” said Jund, who ran for 108 yards and a touchdown in addition to throwing for 164 yards and two TDs.

“I think everyone was just more locked in, paying attention to the details on every play, finding the right thing to do,” said Jund.

“I wasn’t forcing passes down the field. I wasn’t getting greedy. I threw the ball away instead of trying to force balls in,” said the redshirt junior signal caller.

“That was a very good, very mature football game for him,” said Nourse of Jund’s effort, which fell below the three-year starter’s usual production levels in terms of passing yards, but more than made up for that in terms of efficiency and the big W.

“I think it was his best game in terms of decision making and staying in a good frame of mind, being a positive force and on the sideline and all week in practice. He took the things that they gave him, throwing on the edges where we got one-on-ones with our wide receivers,” said Nourse of Jund, who on Saturday regularly found his favorite targets, WRs Jamison Hermanson (6 catches for 87 yards) and Nate Simkins (8 catches for 64 yards).

“Jamison had a hell of a game,” said Jund of the speedy senior wide receiver who stretched the SOU defense.

“And I love playing with Nate Simkins,” said Jund of the former BCHS great who hauled in a pair of touchdowns on Saturday, pulling him within one TD catch of UMW’s all-time career mark.

“He just does the right thing—he runs great routes and always catches what you throw at him,” said Jund of Simkins.

The Bulldog defense kept the usually dangerous SOU passing attack from inflicting much damage, flustering the Raider QBs into hitting just 18 of their 47 passing attempts and tossing two interceptions.

“I thought our corners—Latrell McCutcheon and Braden Swank played a really great football game. They really locked those guys down and made throws hard on their quarterbacks,” said Nourse of his pair of starting CBs, who combined for 7 tackles and 9 pass bust-ups.

“Our linebackers and d-linemen are amazing,” said McCutcheon of units that limited SOU to 55 yards on the ground, while UMW’s rushing attack chewed up 192 yards.

“I think today showed that our DBs can actually play, too,” said McCutcheon, a junior transfer from Minot State who played high school ball in Bozeman.

“It was a super-fun win. We’ve been struggling real bad in the DB position, so coming out and playing like that was awesome, seeing our defense come together like that,” said McCutcheon, who, after SOU’s first-and-only scoring drive of the day in the first quarter, switched sides of the field to keep a closer eye on SOU’s top receiver.

After getting held scoreless in Saturday’s first quarter, the Bulldogs went on an offensive binge, adding to their yards and points totals right through the last drive featuring their starting QB, who ad-libbed a backside keeper and juked his way through a couple of would-be-tacklers into the end zone to close out the scoring with 5:33 left in the game.

“I looked front side—I was trying to throw either the vertical or the corner, but I didn’t like what I saw. Then I looked over on the other side of the field and there was no one there, so I decided to run,” said Jund, whose running style has less in common with a typical QB than a hard-nosed fullback.

“My coach tells me to slide sometimes, but I am who I am. It’s just how I’ve always played. I like to play hard, put my body on the line and make plays.”

Next up for the Bulldogs, a week off leading up to a critical road trip.

Montana Western will travel to Caldwell, Idaho on Oct. 23 for a big game with College of Idaho, the outcome of which could play a big role in determining both team’s fates this season.

SOUTHERN OREGON 7, WESTERN 38

First Quarter

SOU–Matt Struck 9-yd TD run (Cesar Ruiz PAT) 4:33

Second Quarter

UMW–Colten McPhee 1-yd TD run (John Mears PAT) 14:56

UMW–Reese Neville 1-yd TD run (John Mears PAT) 10:09

UMW–Nate Simkins 27-yd TD pass from Jund (John Mears PAT) 4:25

Third Quarter

UMW–Mears 31-yd FG 11:25

UMW–Simkins 11-yd TD pass from Jund (John Mears PAT) 5:05

Fourth Quarter

UMW–Jund 15-yd TD run (John Mears PAT) 5:33

Individual UMW stats

Rushing (att-yds) Jon Jund 16-108, Reese Neville 17-62, Colten McPhee 10-37, Trey Mounts 2-7, Team 2—0, Sean Cooney 1-minus3.

Passing (comp-att-yds) Jund 28-16-164.

Receiving (catches-yds) Jamison Hermanson 6-87, Nate Simkins 8-64, Eligah Benedick 1-10, Blake Sentman 1-8, Neville 1-3.

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