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Bulldog Football Concludes 2023 Season in Loss to Yotes

Lindsey Branch, UMW Sports Information

DILLON, Mont. — The Montana Western football team (9-2) completed the 2023 season this afternoon after they lost to the College of Idaho Yotes (9-2) in the NAIA Football Championship Series Second Round hosted by Montana Western.

How It Happened

College of Idaho opened the game with a nine play, 75-yard drive that put them on the board first with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bulldog offense struggled to get going with a three and out on their opening possession. Despite the slow get off, the Bulldog defense forced a turnover on downs that fueled a scoring drive that closed out the first quarter. Within just four seconds of the second quarter, Michael Palandri hit Dylan Shipley for an 18-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at seven.

The Bulldogs struggled for the remainder of the half, allowing the Yotes to score 21 unanswered points that included a touchdown with just 13 seconds left before halftime.

Down 28-7 early in the second half, Eli Nourse sparked a Bulldog comeback when he returned a Yotes punt 85 yards for a touchdown.

On the first play of the Yotes' next drive, Romeo Simpson recovered a fumble by COI's Jon Schofield and returned it to the Yotes 33-yard line. The Red and Black capitalized on the field position and scored quickly on a Jake Humphrey touchdown rush to bring the Bulldogs within seven at 28-21.

COI would score once more before the end of the frame, taking a 35-21 lead into the fourth quarter.

Western again closed the gap to seven after Humphrey took it to the house on a 42-yard rush with 14:32 remaining to play.

Momentum remained in favor of Western as Bryer Monson recorded a key sack on third and nine, forcing the Yotes to punt once again. Palandri then connected with Shipley for his second touchdown of the game to tie the game at 35 all and just under 11 minutes in the game.

Unfortunately, the tides would turn in favor of the Yotes who would score two consecutive touchdowns to go up 49-35 and leave just three minutes left for the Bulldogs to work with.

Palandri gave the Bulldogs some hope when he connected with Nourse in the back of the end zone, bringing the game back within seven at 49-42.

A last-ditch effort onside kick was unsuccessful for the Bulldogs and the Yotes ran out the clock to take the 49-42 win.


  • Montana Western closes out the season with their final game on Vigilante Field and their second home playoff game in school history.

  • The Yotes accumulated nearly twice as many total offensive yards in the game, racking up a whopping 621 yards compared to UMW's 355 yards.

  • Palandri led the way with 228 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also added 52 rushing yards.

  • Shipley led the receiving corps with 143 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

  • Humphrey rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

  • Braden Smith led the Bulldog defense with 10 total tackles.


Eli Nourse broke multiple single season records following his first year for the Bulldogs. He now holds the single season receiving yards record with 1168 receiving yards. He also broke the season passes caught record after he totaled 90 receptions on the season and the yards per punt return average after he recorded 20.9 yards per punt return.

Coby Tanioka broke the single season kick return yards record after he totaled 644 yards this season.

Tanner Harrell caps out his career tackles for loss with a new Montana Western record of 41 tackles for loss.

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