BILLINGS — Riley Neville knew his teammates had his back.
That’s why he took the gamble.
Neville intercepted a Drew Korf pass at the five-yard line with 14.9 seconds remaining to end Rocky Mountain College's hopes of a late comeback in Eastern Oregon’s 21-17 Frontier Conference football win over the Battlin’ Bears on Saturday at Herb Klindt Field.
Rocky (5-5, 5-4) closes out the regular season at Montana Western next Saturday.
The Battlin’ Bears, who started on their own 17-yard line, drove 77 yards and were first-and-goal on the Mountaineers’ six-yard line with less than a minute to play.
After three incomplete passes, Neville stepped in front of a pass at the five-yard line that was intended for running back Jade Olson.
“They had run that play before. It’s a quick screen to the right,” said Neville, a long 6-3, 195-pound senior playing his first season as a defensive back. “I knew I had help behind me, our safeties were there, so I jumped the route.”
Neville raced down the right sideline before being pulled down by Korf at midfield.
“I was running as hard as I could,” he said of trying make his first career interception a pick-6. “I tried to give him a stiff arm, but their quarterback did a good job of bringing me down. Credit to him for a good play.”
Rocky also scored on a pick-6, with Kendell Jefferson returning an interception 13 yards for a score in the first quarter.
The Battlin’ Bears running back by committee became singular when Mason Melby was knocked out in the first half after catching a short pass on the right sideline. He did not play again.
The Battlin’ Bears were already missing running back Sam Sparks, who did not play because of a sprained shoulder and starting center Troy Bacon because of an injury.
“Any time you’re missing a starting player, it’s big,” said Bears coach Jason Petrino.
Rocky managed just 56 yards rushing. The Battlin’ Bears came into the game averaging 217.4, which is second-best in the league.
Korf finished 26 of 49 passing for 259 yards. He found Lucas Overton for a five-yard scoring pass and was intercepted three times.
Rocky led 17-14 at halftime after Griff Amies’ 29-yard field goal.
Mountaineer quarterback Kai Quinn was 16 of 28 passing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He threaded a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Kelley for the winning score in the third quarter. Running back Victor Dias added 104 yards rushing, including a 62-yard score.
“It’s all about execution,” said Petrino, standing by himself on the cold turf. “They made some plays. They executed and we didn’t.”