Bulldogs drive 94 yards for deciding score
SOU Sports Information
DILLON, Mont. — Montana Western scored two unanswered fourth-quarter touchdowns and drove 94 yards to punch in the deciding score with 42 seconds left, defeating Southern Oregon 24-23 in Frontier Conference play Saturday at Vigilante Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 FC) lost on a last-second touchdown pass at College of Idaho in their conference opener and nearly got burned at the buzzer again. After three quick completions spanning 57 yards from SOU quarterback Matt Struck, kicker Brian Batres attempted a 49-yard field goal from the left hash mark as time expired. With distance to spare, it sailed wide right on the lefty.
The Raiders (1-2, 0-1) had positioned themselves for their first road triumph against an opponent with a winning record since 2017. They led 23-12 after Avery McCuaig ended a 74-yard drive with a short touchdown run five minutes into the second half, and the score stayed there until UMW receiver Eli Nourse caught a 28-yard TD pass with 9:24 left in the fourth.
Nourse — a freshman who finished with 13 receptions for 169 yards, marking his third consecutive 100-yard outing — struck again in the game’s waning moments. With the Bulldogs at the 17-yard line on the 14th play of their game-winning march, Michael Palandri hit him with a screen pass before he juked one defender up the middle and scurried past a few others. The ball came loose in the end zone, but he hung on just long enough to cross the goal line.
Palandri completed 25 of 38 passes for 269 yards and three TDs. He was relatively quiet until late while leading an offense that averaged over 40 points in its three previous outings, as the Raiders got to him four times. Noah Turnbull had two sacks, and Iona Purcell and Alejandro Sanchez had the others.
SOU’s offensive line kept Struck untouched as he completed 20 of 32 attempts for 240 yards. His first throw of the day was a 46-yard TD to Jackson Clemmer, and he connected with Sawyer Cleveland for a 10-yard score early in the second quarter. Batres’ 33-yard field goal put the Raiders up 17-12 at the break before McCuaig’s TD gave them their largest lead of the day.
McCuaig netted 63 yards on 19 carries, and Struck added 33 on five. Cleveland totaled a team-high 66 reception yards on a career-high eight catches.
South Medford High graduate Colton Samis had a big day on special teams. He recorded a 57-yard punt, and it was his 48-yarder that made the Bulldogs go the length of the field for their final score. The drive nearly hit a couple dead ends: an incidental facemask nullified a Raider sack that would have brought up third-and-long on UMW’s 38-yard line, and the Bulldogs later converted on third-and-17.