HELENA - Carroll College freshman quarterback Matt Ritter replaced an injured Dane Broadhead in the middle of the first quarter and led the No. 1 Saints to a 35-18 victory over No. 14 Dickinson State in the first round of the NAIA playoffs Saturday.
Ritter, at one time the third-string quarterback behind junior Gary Wagner and Broadhead, completed 14 of 23 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a third touchdownas a Nelson Stadium crowd of 4,987 looked on.
The reigning national champion Saints (12-0) nearly doubled up the Blue Hawks (7-4) in points and yards. Carroll outgained DSU 501 to 279 yards but did have three turnovers on two fumbles and an interception.
Carroll, which has won five of the past six NAIA championships, has won 27 consecutive games dating to last season. The Saints will learn their quarterfinal pairing today.
Against DSU, senior receiver Travis Browne had seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Gabe Le finished with five catches for 54 yards to go with 54 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
Both of Le's scores came in the first quarter as the Saints jumped to a 28-3 lead by the end of the first half.
Ritter followed up with a 5-yard touchdown run before hitting sophomore receiver Corey Peterson for a 22-yard touchdown catch to end the half.
The Saints were blanked in the third quarter as DSU quarterback Brandon Bishop-Parise connected with Blaine Berg of Glendive for a 26-yard touchdown reception to make it a 28-10 spread.
But Browne broke away for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 13:38 to play to keep the Saints in front.
Sophomore John Camino of Buffalo, Wyo., led the Saints with 62 yards rushing.
Carroll's defense held Bishop-Parise to a 12-of-27 passing performance for 149 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Zach Hepperle of Baker led the Blue Hawks with 46 yards rushing and five catches for 46 yards. Berg finished with 69 yards receiving on three catches.
DSU, which won the Dakota Athletic Conference championship, saw its seven-game winning streak ended by the Saints.