BUTTE – Rocky Mountain kicker Griff Amies was at a loss for words.
Just minutes removed from blasting a 45-yard field goal as time expired to upset No. 11 Montana Tech 30-27, the senior seemed to still be trying to process what had just transpired.
“I couldn’t believe the ball went through the uprights,” Amies said. “It’s a feeling that’s indescribable, I’m so happy. It’s the greatest feeling a kicker could ever have.
“There’s no other feeling like it.”
The Orediggers scored with 1:28 left in the fourth-quarter to tie the game at 27-27, but it was just enough time for the Battlin’ Bears to go 48 yards in eight plays.
All Rocky Mountain wanted to do was get the ball inside the 30-yard line. Quarterback Drew Korf went 5 for 5 on the final drive while looking extremely calm and collected.
With a little over 10 seconds left, Battlin’ Bears running back Mason Melby took a handoff for four yards and got the ball to the 28-yard line. RMC then called its final timeout and Amies split the uprights moments later for his third field goal of the second half.
“I talked on the headset with the coaches before that drive and we knew we just needed to get it down the field. We knew we trusted our kicker,” Korf, who finished the game 23 of 36 for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns, said. “I still couldn’t watch the kick so I was just trying to figure out which side of the stand were cheering after he kicked it. It just feels great.”
Tech quarterback Quinn McQueary struggled during the game, completing 22 of 36 passes for 236 yards, but also threw three costly interceptions. McQueary didn’t play in the final two and a half quarters of the Orediggers’ win over MSU-Northern on Oct. 21 and came out of the locker room at halftime with ice wrapped on his torso.
He took plenty of hits during the game, with perhaps the nastiest coming on Tech’s final offensive drive to tie the game. McQueary didn’t see anyone open on first down at the RMC 23-yard line, tucked it, and was drilled by Battlin’ Bears defensive tackle Denton Wetherell after getting a first down.
Tech head coach Chuck Morrell still has plenty of faith in his quarterback and has no plans to change anything at the position.
“He had some turnovers at inopportune times, but we’re going to roll with Quinn,” Morrell said. “There’s obviously not going to be anyone more frustrated with how we played than all my senior guys. I have complete faith in him.
“He’s an incredibly tough young man.”
The Orediggers offense didn’t really get going until the second half. Running back Jed Fike had 122 of his 149 rushing yards in the final 30 minutes of play.
When the ‘Diggers were able to string together a couple decent runs in a row, the offense hummed. Tech’s two fourth-quarter scoring drives of the game were 12- and 11- plays long, each 75 yards or longer.
“That’s just an unbelievable offense, we scored, they went down and it was like we weren’t even playing defense,” Jason Petrino said. “That’s credit to their offense and we couldn’t stop their running game, especially in the fourth quarter.
“We hit a couple plays, we really wanted to run the ball and we were able to capitalize on some things and move the ball.”
Tied 13-13 entering the fourth, Korf hit freshman Lucas Overton in the back of the end zone minutes into the quarter and Rocky took its first lead of the game. The Orediggers responded with a 14-yard touchdown run from Jed Fike to tie the game back up while taking 4:41 off the clock.
Rocky Mountain didn’t need much time to take the lead back. Two plays into the ensuing RMC offensive drive, Melby scampered 64 yards for a momentum-stealing score.
“That play was huge for us,” Korf said. ‘When you can just hand it off to your running back and the line just goes up there and dominates, it takes a lot of pressure off us.”
Rocky Mountain moves to 5-4 on the year, while Tech drops to 6-2 on the year.
The Frontier Conference title is now out of the picture as well. No. 7 Southern Oregon clinched with a 44-19 win over Montana Western.
“It’s easy to be upbeat when things are going great, but the true test of who you are comes in times of adversity,” Morrell said. “Right now we can only can control what we can control, and that’s getting ready for next week.”