The Montana Western football team returns home this weekend after being on the road for the last two weeks and brings a new national ranking back to Dillon.
While away, the Bulldogs made an impression on the Frontier Conference as well as NAIA coaches across the country. While picked in the preseason to finish seventh in the Frontier Conference, Montana Western has knocked off conference co-champions Southern Oregon University and Montana Tech from a year ago on its way to a 3-0 start and a top twenty ranking.
The Bulldogs are now second in the conference behind Carroll College, who hold the third spot in national rankings, and the team learned earlier this week they have been voted into the top 20 and now hold the No. 15 spot following the 29-22 victory over Montana Tech, who was ranked No. 12 entering this past weekend’s game.
The ranking is the first time Montana Western has held a spot in the top 25 since the end of the 2004 season when it ranked No. 25. As exciting as the ranking is for the football team, coaches reminded the team to continue to work hard and win games to maintain that top 25 ranking.
Head coach B.J. Robertson brings his squad back to Vigilante Field on a four-game winning streak, which dates back to last year, to try and stay atop the Frontier Conference standings. The Bulldogs host conference competitor Montana State University-Northern Saturday.
While the Bulldogs have been away since their opening game win over Southern Oregon, they have gone on to set a few team and individual records. Redshirt freshman running back Sam Rutherford set an individual rushing record when the Montana Western squad faced off against Dickinson State by gaining 228 yards and scored three of his nine rushing touchdowns on the season behind the stellar play of his offensive line. Rutherford has an NAIA-leading 603 yards rushing this season through three games.
The Bulldog offense ranks first in the Frontier Conference in rushing and second in the NAIA with its ground attack. The Bulldogs also set a team rushing record versus the Dickinson State Blue Hawks and rushed for a combined 361 yards in the victory in North Dakota.
The Northern Lights enter Saturday’s contest sitting at 3-1 and third in the Frontier Conference.
Kick-off is at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game is also part of Montana Western’s Alumni Weekend celebration. New members of the athletic Hall of Fame will be announced during halftime.
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.