Courtesy of Montana Athletics
MISSOULA, Mont. -- The second-ranked University of
Montana Grizzlies tied an NCAA record by scoring four touchdowns on interceptions and their two senior quarterbacks combined for five scoring passes as they rolled to a 73-2 victory over the visiting Western State College (Colo.). Mountaineers Saturday afternoon.
A crowd of 25,663 was on hand in Washington-Grizzly Stadium -
the sixth largest ever in 179 games to watch Montana open its 2010
season and the 25th in WGS. Last year the Grizzlies also opened their
season with the Mountaineers, and set a record for the largest
attendance ever in a home opener with 25,698 fans.
The 73 points was the most by the Grizzlies since a 68-45 home
win over Southern Utah in 2002, and ties for the fifth most ever scored
by a Montana team. The Griz beat Mt. Saint Charles (Carroll College)
133-0 in (which was also a season opener) 1920; Montana Tech 106-6 in
1924; 79-0 over Montana State in 1904; and 81-21 over Weber State and
73-23 at Idaho State, both in 1999.
It took the Grizzlies just 53 seconds on their opening drive to
take the lead for good, as quarterback Andrew Selle hit sophomore wide
receiver Sam Gratton in the right side of the endzone for a 37-yard
scoring pass at the 14:07 mark.
Montana (1-0) then scored on back-to-back interceptions, the
first by sophomore linebacker Jordan Tripp from 22 yards out, and the
second a 34-yarder by senior strong safety Erik Stoll's. Stoll's "pick
for six" gave the Griz a 21-0 lead with just a little more than two
minutes (12:56) gone in the game.
Sophomore returner Peter Nguyen was instrumental in the win,
giving his team excellent field position several times. He had six
punts returns for 149 yards (a 24.8-yard average), and also had a
56-yard kickoff return, for 205 all-purpose yards. His returns were
advanced to Montana's 46 and 49-yard lines, and he also had returns to
WSC's 10, 33, 34, and 38-yard lines.
The Mountaineers (0-2) only points in the game came when Selle
fumbled a center snap and senior end Patrick Atherton recovered it for a
The rest of the way it was all Grizzlies. Well, almost anyway.
The Grizzlies scored on their third pick of the day when WSU
quarterback Miles Gorham's pass was tipped and cornerback Trumaine
Johnson grabbed the ball in mid-air and returned it 18 yards for a
Montana scored twice in the second quarter when wide receiver.
The first game on a trick play, a s wide receiver Jeff Larson caught a
lateral-type of pass from Roper, then tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to
sophomore tight end Greg Hardy. The Griz up 42-2 with 6:48 left until
halftime when Selle hit junior receiver Jabin Sambrano in stride as he
broke wide open on a post pattern, scoring a 55-yard touchdown.
About a minute-and-a-half later mother nature got into the act,
as both teams were cleared off the field and returned to their
locker-rooms due to team safety, as lightening struck repeatedly around
The delay occurred with 5:30 remaining until halftime. The
teams finally returned more about an hour or so later, warmed up, and
then the third quarter started.
After the bizarre delay it was all Grizzlies, as Montana, who
had 66 players see action in the contest, scored two touchdowns in each
of the final two quarters.
Junior Brody McKnight started the scoring in the third stanza,
nailing a 32-yard field goal. Quarterback Justin Roper then add two TD
passes in the third quarter - a 10-yarder to senior halfback Chase
Reynolds and a 12-yarder to sophomore receiver Bryce Carver, giving
Montana a 59-2 at the 5:58 mark.
McKnight tied a school record by making all 10 of his PAT
attempts. He tied the mark of 10 set by Kris Heppner against Weber
State in 1999.
The Griz scored twice in the fourth quarter. Roper and Carver
hooked up again early (14:48) in the final quarter, and then redshirt
freshman cornerback Sean Murray picked off yet another WSC pass, scoring
from 14 yards out.
The three touchdown passes was a career-high for Roper, who
threw 8 TD passes in eight different games last season.
Montana's four interceptions for four touchdowns shatters the
Big Sky Conference record of two held by many league team. It tied the
FCS and FBS mark held by four different teams. The last time their were
four picks for four scores was in an FCS game between Nicholls State and
Northwestern State in 2007.
Selle was 4-of-11-1 for 123 yards and had two scoring passes,
while Roper was 7-of-10-0 for 105 yards and three touchdown throws.
Hardy, who did not have a reception last season, had 3 grabs for
47 yards and a TD. Sambrano had 2 for 68 and a touchdown. He was
followed by Gratton (2-59-1); Carver (2-40-2), and Reynolds (2-19-1).
Carver had also begun the season without a catch.
Sophomore Gerald Kemp, who was recently moved from quarterback
to running back, had game-highs of 10 carries for 70 yards, while
Reynolds picked up 40 yards on eight totes. UM did not have a rushing
touchdown, gaining 103 yards on 27 carries.
Mountaineer quarterbacks were a combined 11-of-25-4.
The Griz defense held the Mountaineers, a Division II team from
Gunnison, Colo., to six first downs and 94 total yards (55 passing, 39
rushing). Montana had 15 first downs and 365 yards of offense (262
passing and 103 rushing). WSC was 1-of-15 in third down conversions,
while UM was 7-of-12.
Junior linebacker Alex Shaw had a game-high 7 tackles, while
Tripp had 5 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Johnson and Stoll had
5 tackles each, and each also had an interception for a TD. Junior
tackler Tyrone Duncan, a transfer from Washington, had 3 tackles for
loss and a pair of sacks.
Montana is on the road for a non-league night game at
25th-ranked Cal Poly next Saturday. The Mustangs opened their season at
home this evening against Humboldt State. WSC is off next week.