MISSOULA (AP) — Montana coach Mick Delaney believes no one should be surprised that his team racked up 315 yards on the ground Saturday in its seas
on opener against South Dakota.
"I've been a guy who loves to run the football my whole career," said Delaney, who is in his first season as Montana's head coach.
Behind a power running game and a couple of key second-half turnovers, No. 10 Montana gave Delaney his first Grizzly victory with a 35-24 win over the Coyotes.
Montana quarterback Trent McKinney, who also made his Grizzly debut Saturday, completed 26-of-32 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Dan Moore ran for 148 yards and a touchdown and Peter Nguyen added 102 yards and a touchdown for Montana. The Grizzlies set a school record with 34 first downs.
The Montana win spoiled the homecoming of Coyote head coach Joe Glenn, who won the Football Championship Subdivision national championship while coaching at Montana in 2001.
"We didn't hold up against the run as good as I had hoped," said Glenn, who was coaching his first game at South Dakota. "They just took it to us down the middle."
After trailing the entire first half, South Dakota took the lead, 24-16, with 9:47 left in the third quarter following an 80-yard touchdown pass from Josh Vander Maten to Terrance Terry and a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown by Charlie Goro.
But the Grizzlies responded with a double pass play that saw McKinney toss it to tight end Greg Hardy who then threw downfield to a wide open Bryce Carver for a 39-yard touchdown to cut the Coyote lead to 24-22 with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
The Coyotes then turned the ball over on their next two possessions, resulting in a 14-yard touchdown run by Moore and a 3-yard scoring run by Nguyen.
"The momentum changed after we turned it over twice," Glenn said.
In the first half, McKinney connected on scoring tosses of 4 yards to Sam Gratton and 18 yards to Cam Warren.
"A huge advantage today was our tempo. We wore them down," Delaney said. "We have a good offensive line and guys who can run the ball."
Moore credited the Montana offensive line for the running game success.
"Those are some big dudes who can move some bodies," Moore said.
For the Coyotes, Vander Maten and Terry hooked up on an 8-yard scoring pass in the first half. Vander Maten finished the game with 172 passing yards, while Terry grabbed four balls for 109 yards.
Things get more difficult for the Griz this week. Montana travels to Boone, N.C. for a much-anticipated showdown with FCS power Appalachian State.
Note: Havre Daily News sports editor George Ferguson contributed to this story.