HELENA, Mont. – Two tradition-rich small college football programs met for the first time since 1986 in a cross-divisional football game Saturday at Nelson Field.
Carroll College receiver Joe Farris scored on a 65-yard pass play from Kolby Killoy with 1:29 left to play, propelling the host Fighting Saints to a 21-14 victory over the Linfield College Wildcats.
Major Ali gained 121 of Carroll's 139 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns from 12 and 15 yards, staking the Saints to leads of 7-0 and 14-0.
Linfield countered with two second-half touchdowns of its own, knotting the game at 14 with 11:39 left to play. Wildcats quarterback Wyatt Smith first passed 4 yards to Dawson Ruhl to cut the Carroll lead in half, 14-7, with 2:33 left in the third. Six minutes later, the two Wildcats switched roles with Smith pulling in a TD pass, 13 yards from the fingertips of Ruhl.
Linfield's defense twice held Carroll deep inside its own territory in the closing 6½ minutes, forcing the Saints to punt each time.
The game turned on a two-play sequence as Smith was picked off on first down from the Wildcats' 33-yard line by Ryan Beaulieu. The Saints followed with Killoy's 35-yard game-winning toss to Joe Farris down the right sideline. Farris slipped behind the Linfield coverage and broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.
Smith passed the ball a career-high 54 times but completed just 25 throws for 279 yards. He was intercepted three times and sacked three times. Two of Smith interceptions occurred inside the Saints' end zone.
Linfield receiver Keegan Weiss caught seven passes for 76 yards. Ruhl caught five passes 25 yards while J.D. Lasswell had four receptions totaling 42 yards.
Linfield outgained Carroll in total yards, 382-304. The Saints yielded two turnovers to the Wildcats' three. The Wildcats were also flagged seven times for 94 yards. The Saints drew five penalties, three of them for pass interference.
Smith and Colton Ramos combined for six punts, four of which were downed inside the Saints' 20-yard line.
Wildcats linebacker Patrick Pipitone recorded a career-high 10 tackles, including two for loss, in his first career start. He also picked off a pass, returning it 10 yards. End Travis Swanson recorded four tackles for loss among his eight total stops. Duke Mackle had seven tackles, plus an interception, and Taulelei Toledo finished with six tackles in his first extended action since joining the program.
Temperature at kickoff was 79 degrees . . . Saturday's announced Homecoming attendance was 2,205. . . Linfield, which won three NAIA football titles in the 1980s, shifted affiliation to NCAA Division III in 1998. . . Carroll has won six NAIA crowns, including four straight from 2002 through 2005.
Linfield plays its home opener Saturday at Maxwell Field against the Redlands Bulldogs. Stadium gates open at 11:30 a.m. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.