HAVRE — Quarterback Nate Dick and Rocky Mountain College had the final say in what was a back-and-forth Frontier Conference football struggle on Saturday.
Dick’s 1-yard touchdown run and Kayson Barnett’s interception late in the fourth quarter lifted Rocky to a 31-28 victory over MSU-Northern on Saturday during homecoming at Tilleman Family Field.
Trailing by four points, Dick scored to cap a five-play, 45-yard drive and give Rocky the lead with 1:43 on the clock. Dick connected with wideout Joseph Dwyer twice on the drive, and also rushed the ball for 14 yards to set up the go-ahead score on the following play.
The Battlin’ Bears also benefited from a short punt to get the ball back, as well as a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the first play of the possession.
“Our punt return team got some pressure and forced them into a bad kick. Their punter had been booming them all game,” Rocky coach Chris Stutzriem said. “From there we made a couple of easy throws, and Nate made a couple good reads. Joseph Dwyer had a couple big catches.
“We moved down the field and we called a run play with our quarterback.”
On the ensuing drive, Barnett picked off quarterback Kaymen Cureton at Northern’s 35 with 45 seconds left, which preserved the victory.
“Kaysan read the quarterback’s eyes,” Stutzriem said. “What a smart play by him to catch it, secure the ball and get down so we could take a knee and go win the game.”
Dick threw for 238 yards and an interception. He led the Bears with 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 10-yard scamper to put Rocky up 21-14 in the second quarter.
As a team, Northern rushed for 284 yards. Izayah Boss had 158 yards and a touchdown. Cureton rushed for a TD, and Dylan Vongphachanh scored twice on the ground.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of playing our gaps and tackling,” Stutzriem said of Rocky’s leaky rush defense.
Vongphachanh’s 30-yard run quickly tied the score after Tommy Corcoran ran one in from 2 yards to put Rocky ahead 7-0 a minute into the game.
A 13-yard touchdown run by Boss gave Northern a 14-7 advantage, but Cade Lambert’s 3-yard run before the end of the first quarter knotted the score again for Rocky.
Cureton had a 7-yard touchdown run late in the third that brought Northern back to tie it 21-21. A 34-yard field goal by reliable Riley Garrett put the Bears back in front 24-21 with 9:59 left, but Vongphachanh raced 39 yards to the end zone to give the Lights the lead with 3:59 left.
That set the stage for a dramatic finish.
Rocky improved to 3-1 (3-1 Frontier). The Lights fell to 0-4 (0-4) while suffering their 44th consecutive conference loss.
“I don’t think you ever dodge one. We won the game. They prepared well and they played extremely hard,” Stutzriem said. “We didn’t play perfect but I’ll take a win every time.
“I’ll take a happy bus ride home over a sad one.”
Rocky will host Montana Western next week. Northern will host Montana Tech.