The University of Montana Western football team opened its 2013 season with a big win at home over Southern Oregon University Raiders, who were ranked 14th in the country entering Saturday’s contest.
In the final ten minutes of the game, the Bulldogs made a comeback and scored 14 unanswered points to topple the Raiders.
After falling behind 6-0 early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs answered with two touchdowns on the ground. The first, a 5-yard scamper by quarterback Tyler Hulse, was followed by a 45-yard run by freshman Sam Rutherford to make the score 14-6.
The Raiders came back to score a touchdown on the ground by Zach Marshall early in the second quarter.
Less than two minutes later Rutherford made a 32-yard sprint to the end zone. Not long after, Connor Greth kicked a 27-yard field goal to lengthen the Bulldog lead.
With under two minutes remaining in the half the Raiders struck a 58-yard bomb from Austin Dodge to Dylan Young to shorten the Bulldog lead to 24-19.
Southern Oregon came out strong in the second half and put 15 points on the board with two touchdowns and a converted two-point attempt on a rush by Melvin Mason. The Raiders took the lead 28-19.
The Montana Western squad continued to battle, and Rutherford scored his third touchdown to bring the Bulldogs within one score in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs defense held firm and got the ball back. Montana Western then moved the ball down the field quickly. With 1:23 remaining on the clock, Hulse found freshman receiver Collin Sale, who made a diving reception in the end zone, to take the lead for good.
The Raiders amassed 494 total yards led by quarterback Dodge’s 338 passing yards and a pair of 70-yard rushers with the tandem of Marshall and Mason. The Bulldogs offense was led by Rutherford’s 185 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Dylan Kramer added 93 yards on the ground. Hulse threw for 119 yards and wide receiver Sale had four receptions for 62 yards.
The Montana Western defense was led by Casey Griffith, who tallied nine solo tackles and assisted in eight more. Other big contributors for the Bulldog defense were defensive tackle Francisco Romero with 11 total tackles, three of which went for losses. Joe Coker and Jesse McCloud added a combined 14 tackles. McCloud and Scott Mundaniohl each had interceptions on the day.