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Frontier Conference Football: Week 12 top performers, storylines to follow, players of the week

Tech vs Montana Western

Montana Western quarterback Jon Jund passes the ball earlier this season against Montana Tech in Butte.

HELENA — In some ways, it feels like the season just started, but after last Saturday’s slate of games, the 2021 fall Frontier Conference football schedule is complete. After some chaos during the final week of the regular-season, we found out on Sunday which Frontier team will represent the conference in the NAIA playoffs.

Montana Western, Rocky Mountain College and College of Idaho will all split the Frontier Championship at 7-3, while Carroll finishes the year 6-4 and fourth in the league standings. Montana Tech (5-5), Eastern Oregon (4-6), Southern Oregon (3-7) and Montana State Northern (1-9) round out the rankings.

Montana Western earns bid to NAIA Football Championship Series

The Bulldogs entered last Saturday one game behind C of I and Rocky Mountain. After beating the Battlin’ Bears 50-42 in double overtime and the Yotes’ loss to Carroll, Western found itself in a three-way tie atop the Frontier standings.

The Bulldogs will share the conference title with two other teams, but on Sunday, Western found out its season would continue as the No. 16 seed in the 16-team NAIA Football Championship Series. They will go on the road to face the defending national champion and the No. 1 team in the country Lindsey Wilson.

The game will be played at Parnell Family Stadium in Columbia, Kentucky, on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time.

Western received the Frontier’s automatic bid to the playoffs because it was the lone team among programs tied at 7-3 (C of I, Western, Rocky Mountain) that was ranked inside the top-20 in Sunday’s NAIA top-25 coaches poll.

Frontier Conference in the polls

After beating Rocky Mountain College 50-42, Western essentially swapped places with the Battlin’ Bears, rising four spots to No. 19 in the NAIA top-25 coaches poll released on Sunday. Rocky Mountain fell five spots and outside of the all-important top-20 to No. 21 with the loss.

College of Idaho was the biggest mover (in the wrong direction), dropping seven spots to No. 25 following a 21-6 loss to Carroll.

Western, C of I and Rocky Mountain will all share the Frontier title this season after each finishing the 10-game slate at 7-3. The Bulldogs received the conference’s bid to the NAIA playoffs because they were the lone program ranked in the top-20.

Individual league-leaders (in conference-only games)

Total pass yards -

Jon Jund (2,594) - #6 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Nate Dick (2,432) - #7 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Jet Campbell (2,047) - #11 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Pass yards per game -

Jon Jund (259.4) - #11 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Nate Dick (243.2) - #14 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Jet Campbell (227.4) - #20 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Pass TDs -

Jon Jund (27) - #4 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Nate Dick (21) - t-10 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Jet Campbell (17) - t-17 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Total rush yards -

Nick Calzaretta (980) - #7 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Duncan Kraft (855) - #11 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Reese Neville (828) - #13 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Rush TDs -

Nick Calzaretta (14) - t-4 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Reese Neville (10) - t-13 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Jon Jund (8) - t-21 NAIA, t-3 Frontier

Duncan Kraft (8) - t-21 NAIA, t-3 Frontier

Total receiving yards -

Nate Simkins (1,037) - #3 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Bryce Goggin (802) - #10 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Jamison Hermanson (670) - #22 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Receiving TDs -

Nate Simkins (13) - t-3 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Bryce Goggin (8) - t-16 NAIA, t-2 Frontier

Lucas Overton (8) - t-16 NAIA, t-2 Frontier

All-purpose yards per game -

Reese Neville (110.2) - #50 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Nate Simkins (103.7) - #60 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Nick Calzaretta (103.1) - #62 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Total tackles -

Dylan Martinez (109) - #5 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Dylan Wampler (103) - #6 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Hunter Riley (85) - #13 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Tackles per game -

Dylan Martinez (10.9) - #8 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Dylan Wampler (10.3) - #9 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Hunter Riley (8.5) - #47 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Sacks -

Sage DeLong (10) - t-3 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Alejandro Sanchez (9) - #8 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Ethan Hurst (8.5) - t-9 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Tackles for loss -

Sage DeLong (17.5) - t-4 NAIA, t-1 Frontier

Wes Moeai (17.5) - t-4 NAIA, t-1 Frontier

Chase Van Wyck (16) - #9 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Interceptions -

Isaiah Paul (7) - t-2 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Stokes Botelho (5) - t-8 NAIA, #2 Frontier

TJ Abraham (3) - t-29 NAIA, t-3 Frontier

Micah Ans (3) - t-29 NAIA, t-3 Frontier

5 more with 3 interceptions

Field goal percentage -

Cesar Ruiz (78%) - t-24 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Stephen Powell (75%) - t-26 NAIA, #2 Frontier

Zachary Cahill (67%) - t-37 NAIA, #3 Frontier

Kick points (FG & XPT) -

Riley Garrett (68) - t-8 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Zachary Cahill (54) - t-14 NAIA, t-2 Frontier

Stephen Powell (54) - t-14 NAIA, t-2 Frontier

Punt average -

Andrew Almos (44.5) - #2 NAIA, #1 Frontier

Conference Players of the Week

Offense: Running back Reese Neville, Montana Western

Defense: Defensive back TJ Abraham, Carroll

Special Teams: Kicker Ryan Lowry, Montana Tech

TJ Abraham versus Montana Western

Carroll defensive back TJ Abraham celebrates after picking off a Montana Western pass in the 2021 fall season-opener.

Week 12 top performers

Offense

Montana Western running back Reese Neville: 226 rush yards, 1 TD  22 receiving yards

Montana Western quarterback Jon Jund: 23-for-45 passing, 328 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs  70 rush yards, 2 TDs

Carroll running back Baxter Tuggle: 123 rush yards, 2 TDs

Rocky Mountain College quarterback Nate Dick: 16-for-38 passing, 194 yards, 4 TDs  107 rush yards

Montana Western wide receiver Nate Simkins: 9 receptions, 159 yards, 3 TDs

Eastern Oregon quarterback Kai Quinn: 20-for-34 passing, 284 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT  52 rush yards, 1 TD

Eastern Oregon wide receiver Isaiah Thomas: 8 receptions, 147 yards

Montana Tech running back Blake Counts: 147 rush yards

Montana Western wide receiver Jamison Hermanson: 6 receptions, 101 yards, 1 TD

Carroll running back Duncan Kraft: 114 rush yards

Defense

Carroll defensive back TJ Abraham: 18 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

Rocky Mountain College linebacker Nolan McCafferty: 14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL

Rocky Mountain College defensive back Tyler Hilliard: 14 tackles

Montana State Northern defensive back Hunter Riley: 13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble

Southern Oregon linebacker Drew Schuler: 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 pass break-up

Montana State Northern defensive lineman Chase Gilbert: 11 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 1 forced fumble

Montana Western linebacker Joe Caicedo: 12 tackles, 1 pass break-up

College of Idaho linebacker Tanner Leaf: 10 tackles, 0.5 sack, 0.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble

Eastern Oregon linebacker Hayden Brandon: 10 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL

Montana Tech linebacker Bridger Johnson: 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 3.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble

Special Teams

Montana Tech kicker Ryan Lowry: 2-for-2 FG, long 47, 5-5 extra-point, 11 points

Montana Tech punter Andrew Almos: 4 punts, 221 yards, 55.3 avg., long 61, 1 touchback, 3 punts inside 20-yard line

Rocky Mountain College punter Wyatt Brusven: 7 punts, 287 yards, 41 avg., long 60, 1 touchback, 3 punts inside 20-yard line

Montana State Northern punter Hunter Riley: 10 punts, 432 yards, 43.2 avg., long 50, 3 punts inside 20-yard line

College of Idaho punter Jacob Johnson: 4 punts, 150 yards, 37.5 avg., long 41, 2 punts inside 20-yard line

Carroll punter Brock Paldi: 4 punts, 146 yards, 36.5 avg., long 40, 1 punt inside 20-yard line

Southern Oregon punter Nolan Rinefort: 7 punts, 246 yards, 35.1 avg., long 59, 4 punts inside 20-yard line

Montana Tech wide receiver Mark Estes: 5 punt returns, 78 yards, 15.6 avg., long 37

Tech vs. MSU Northern

Tech's Andrew Almos punts the ball during the first half of the Orediggers' home game against MSU-Northern on Saturday.

Week 13 (playoffs) prediction

No. 1 Lindsey Wilson vs. No. 16 Montana Western: Blue Raiders 42, Bulldogs 28

After winning the NAIA National Championship in the spring, Lindsey Wilson will attempt to defend its banner as the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. The Blue Raiders were the wire-to-wire top team in the nation this year, finishing the regular-season at 10-0.

Lindsey Wilson and Western are two of the top-15 offenses in the country, each averaging north of 40 points per game. The two teams scored a combined 99 points in their final regular-season contests, but only Western allowed points (42 to Rocky Mountain in a double overtime win).

Paired with its high-octane offense, Lindsey Wilson boasts the country’s best defense in terms of points allowed per game (7.5) and is the only team in the NAIA that has held its opponent, on average, to less than 10 points per game.

Western quarterback Jon Jund will enter the matchup after racking up six total touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing) last Saturday. Running back Reese Neville also amassed 226 yards on the ground and the Bulldogs totaled over 600 yards of offense.

Nate Simkins Montana Western

Nate Simkins celebrates a touchdown against Montana Tech on Nov. 6 in Dillon.

Jund is 75 yards away from eclipsing 3,000 for the year and has tossed 31 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. His 265.9 passing yards per game ranks ninth in the NAIA (including non-conference games).

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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