Montana Western Dawgs eclipse MSUN, 35-6

M.P. Regan
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The ground game carried the University of Montana Western football team to a 35-6 victory over Montana State University-Northern on Saturday in Havre.

“We ran the ball pretty well,” understated UMW Head Coach Ryan Nourse, whose offense rushed for four TDs and 208 yards on the Hi Line.

“Northern likes to load up the box defensively with seven or eight guys. So in practice the week leading up to this game, we had to do a lot of work on our run game with our offensive linemen and running backs, and a lot of it paid off,” said Nourse, who hailed the play of center Marcus Lombard in helping call blocking schemes.

“Our offensive line calls go through our center, and his communication was timely and accurate,” said Nourse of the redshirt sophomore from Hawaii.

“And I’m proud of our defense,” said Nourse of a Dawg D that yielded just 44 yards on the ground, while registering its fourth straight stout performance of a 2022 season during which it’s surrendered just 11 points per game while UMW has built a 3-1 record.

The Lights did manage to score a TD on Saturday on a blocked field goal return by Joshua Rose, though not until halfway through the fourth quarter—long after the Bulldogs had planted their W flag atop the contest.

The Bulldogs found their way into the end zone early and often enough to keep the Lights at a comfortable distance through the mismatch.

An emerging force, sophomore DJ Kirven ran in for two scores, while the old senior warhorses of the UMW offense— Kirven’s fellow RB Reese Neville and QB Jon Jund—each galloped into the end zone.

Jund threw through the clouds of dust for another TD on a 46-yard strike to Dylan Shipley, a freshman phenom who leads the Frontier Conference in touchdown catches with five less than halfway into his first regular season.

Even with the blocked field goal lapse, the UMW special teams gained kudos from Nourse, who signaled out the play of backup RB Pete Gibson, a BCHS grad.

“Pete is your consummate third running back and a great special teams player,” said Nourse of the redshirt sophomore who gained 40 yards on just three carries while also registering a pair of tackles on special teams.

“Pete is so football intelligent and locked in, we can always count on him. He’s such an important part of the team with Derek Loring,” added Nourse of the senior special teams ace from Browning.

“They are both always ready when called.”

The Lights proved unready for the Dawg pass rush, which netted 5 sacks (1.5 each for Reese Artz and Tanner Harrell) and helped distress MSUN’s QBs into throwing three interceptions, one each to Braden Smith, Cody Whalen and Kameron Rauser.

Next up for the Bulldogs, a visit from an old friend for a big occasion.

Montana Western will host archrival Montana Tech at Vigilante Field in Dillon on Saturday, Sept. 24, starting at 1 p.m.

“There’s always a little heightened anticipation for this one,” noted Nourse of the longtime feud between southwestern Montana neighbors he proudly participated in as a player for UMW in the 1990s.

“It will be a tough physical game between hard-hitting teams. It’s all part of the fun.”