(Game Recap: Football | November 13, 2021 | Casey Parrott, UMW Sports Information)
The 23rd ranked Montana Western Bulldogs (8-3, 7-3) clinched a share of the Frontier Conference Championship with a 50-42 double overtime win over No. 16 Rocky Mountain College (7-3, 7-3).
The Bulldog defense held strong when the needed to. forced Rocky to a four and out in double overtime to seal the win.
Reese Neville scored the go-ahead touchdown from a yard out to give the Bulldogs a 50-42 lead. Neville finished with 23 carries for 226 yards (two yards shy of a school record) and a score. He averaged 9.8 yards a carry as the Bulldogs pound the ball on the ground all game totaling 320 rushing yards.
With the ground game turning up chunks of yardage the Bulldogs also found success in the air despite the blustery conditions at Vigilante Field. Jon Jund threw for 328 yards on 23-45 passing and four touchdowns. He also ran the ball for 70 yards and two scores.
The Bulldogs took a 21-0 lead into halftime and looked to be in control of the game. But Rocky wouldn't back down without a fight. Aided by penalties the Battlin' Bears Quickly marched down the field and scored their first points of the game. After the teams traded punts Jund found Jamison Hermanson for a 48 yard score to put the Bulldogs back up by three scores.
Rocky answered on their next position to trim the lead to 28-14. Jund's next pass was intercepted and returned 40 yards for a touchdown and Rocky was within seven at 28-21. Jund then found Nate Simkins for the third time late in the third to put Western back up by 14.
Simkins finished with nine catches for 159 yards.
The Bulldogs forced another rocky punt, but Jund's pass was intercepted and the Bears reasoned one play later to once again trim the Bulldog lead to just seven at 35-28.
Rocky forced a Western three-and-out and tied the game seven plays later.
Rocky forced yet another Bulldog punt, but Bulldogs kept the drive alive when Rocky was flagged for roughing the punter.
Jund found Simkins for a 27 yard cold blooded connection on fourth-and-eight to put the Bulldogs inside the redzone at the five yard line. Jund then scored on the next play to give Western the 42-35 lead with 2:28 remaining in regulation.
Nathan Dick with orchestrated an 11 play drive that tied the game at 42 with just 32 seconds left.
Dick finished 16 of 38 for 194 yards and four touchdowns, he also rushed the ball for 107 yards.
Western won the overtime coin toss and elected to go on defense and were rewarded as they forced another Rocky fumble setting up the offense for the walk off win.
Western drove the ball down to the six yard line and on fourth down sent the kicker out to attempt a game winning field goal. But needing to win by four or more points to win the conference tie-breaker of defensive points allowed. Western called timeout and drew upa fourth down play.
Former quarterback and current wide receiver Blake Sentman passed the ball to Jund in the "Philly Special" But Jund was tackled just inches short of he first down marker at the one yard line. and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs and the game went into the second overtime period.
Wester got the ball to start and four straight runs by Neville gave the Bulldogs the 48-42 lead. Hermanson caught the two-point conversion to give UMW an eight point lead.
Then the defense stepped up and forced an errent pass from Dick on fourth down and the Bulldogs celebrated their first Conference title since 2004.
The Bulldogs share the Frontier crown with the College of Idaho and Rocky Mountain College who all finished the season at 7-3.
The Bulldogs will find out if they made the playoffs tomorrow Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. on the NAIA Football selection show.
The Bulldogs eight wins are the most since the 2002 season.
The Bulldogs ran 102 plays
Nate Simkins tied a school record for the sixth time with three touchdown receptions. He also broke the school record for career catches with 218. He broke a single season record with 80 passes caught.
the Bulldogs had 13 pass beak ups.
the Bulldogs forced four fumbles, recovering three of them.