Bulldogs aim to extend home streak, Orediggers look to bounce back

DILLON — Montana Western won’t need to look beyond the chain link fence surrounding Vigilante Stadium for fuel ahead of it’s latest clash against Montana Tech.

“Coach said all the motivation we need coming into this week is don’t lose at home,” said redshirt junior linebacker Braden Smith, a Whitehall product. “We don’t lose at home. So we’ve been keeping that going and we plan to keep that rolling.”

The No. 17 Bulldogs (3-1 overall, 2-1 in Frontier Conference play) have prevailed in their last 12 home contests in a streak dating back to 2018. They’ll be looking to make it a baker’s dozen as the Orediggers (2-1) head to Dillon for a matchup between two teams looking to send a message on Saturday.

Western will look to continue demonstrating how far it’s come since a 16-10 opening-week loss to Carroll College. Tech will be trying to prove that it’s 28-20 loss to Rocky Mountain College — a defeat that saw the Orediggers fall out of the NAIA Top 25 poll — was an anomaly.

Western swept the series in 2021 and with neither team playing in 2020 the last time Tech topped the Bulldogs was a 35-12 victory at home on Oct. 12, 2019.

Either way, this rivalry game is one that’s entrenched in both programs and one both teams look forward to well before the first kickoff of the season.

“Let’s be honest, this is a fun game,” said Western head coach Ryan Nourse. “It’s one of the best games in the state of Montana every year. Us and Tech, these rivalries up the corridor, they’re part of the fabric of Montana.”

Western will continue to lean on the arm and legs of redshirt junior Jon Jund who has racked up seven passing touchdowns and five rushing scores so far. Freshman receiver Dylan Shipley has been Jund’s preferred target with five touchdown receptions.

Meanwhile, Tech has been focused on both learning and moving on from it’s loss to the Battlin’ Bears.

“We gotta bounce back,” said Orediggers head coach Kyle Samson. “We gotta deal with some adversity which is not always a bad thing. But I think our guys have really responded. Putting last week behind us, learning from it and taking some things from that game that could help us get better.”

At the top of Tech’s priorities has been ball security following a game in which the Orediggers’ offenses had five turnovers.

“We need to take care of the ball,” said senior wide receiver Trevor Hoffman who leads Tech with 259 receiving yards but is still searching for his first touchdown. “It’s definitely a focus. We’ve been working drills taking care of the ball. I think we’re gonna bounce back really well this week.”

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