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Cat-Griz Report: Cats, Griz fall in different ways


September 11, 2017

AP Photo

Montana State quarterback Chris Murray avoids a tackle from South Dakota during Saturday night's FCS game at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN (AP) - Taryn Christion ran for two touchdowns and South Dakota needed a trick play to hold off Montana State, 31-27 on Saturday night.

The No. 4 Jackrabbits built a 17-0 lead, but Chris Murray, who fired four touchdown passes, brought the Bobcats back to trail by just three, 24-21 after three quarters.

With 4:26 left South Dakota State opted for a fake field goal and kicker Chase Vinatieri ran 31 yards for a touchdown to make it a 31-21 lead.

"We didn't escape," SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. "We were ready to win and we responded."

Montana State (0-2) scored to cut the South Dakota State lead to four points and the Bobcats got the ball with 50 seconds only to see time expire. 

"I'm angry and disappointed ," MSU coach Jeff Choate said. "We put ourselves in a position to win the game and didn't accomplish that."

MSU missed two field goals and threw an interception in the end zone. The Bobcats also saw a would-be go-ahead touchdown pass called back for holding, which led to a missed field goal. 

MSU's Mac Bignell forced a fumbled with 1:47 to play after the Bobcats just missed recovering an on-side kick, but SDSU running back Brady Mengarelli recovered. 

Christion was 25 of 33 passing for 267 yards and added a team-high 57 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Murray completed 23 of 42 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He collected 107 yards on 17 carries rushing to lead Montana State on the ground. 

The Bobcats are off this week, followed by a road trip to the University of North Dakota to open Big Sky Conference play Sept. 23.

Washington 63, Griz 7

SEATTLE (AP) - Dante Pettis couldn't adequately describe his latest punt return touchdown for No. 7 Washington that put him in the Pac-12 record book by himself. A sprint to the right, a cutback to the left and a move on the punter that left Pettis unable to find the right words.

"I still don't really know what I did," Pettis said . "I just remember cutting back and making a little move on the punter; I don't even know what that move was."

Pettis weaved his way 67 yards for his Pac-12 record-breaking seventh career punt return touchdown, Jake Browning threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and Washington rolled past Montana 63-7 on Saturday night.

Pettis returned a punt for a score for the second straight game. His 61-yard return at Rutgers last week tied him with DeSean Jackson for the conference mark and ignited Washington (2-0) after a sluggish start in the season opener.

Montana (1-1) made the unwise decision to punt to Pettis on the final play of the first quarter. The senior veered to the sideline nearest where he caught the kick, cut all the way across the field, juked Montana punter Eric Williams and sprinted the final few yards to give the Huskies a 21-7 lead.

Pettis is one shy of the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns in a career, held by Wes Welker (Texas Tech) and Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma).

"Coming into this year I didn't think I was going to get that many return opportunities," Pettis said. "And then after last week I was like, 'I'll probably not get any more.'"

While Pettis showed his creative elusiveness to help break the game open, he was also responsible for the one blemish on Browning's otherwise spectacular stat line. A first-quarter pass intended for Pettis instead caromed off his hand and into the arms of Montana safety Josh Sandry, who returned it 36 yards to tie it at 7. The defensive score briefly energized the Grizzlies, but it was short lived.

Browning was the biggest reason why. Given plenty of time on every snap, Browning finished 22 of 26 passing with only two of his incompletions hitting the turf. Both of his touchdown passes went to tight end Will Dissly, the first from 20 yards and the second from 3 yards.

Browning also showed some elusiveness as a runner, rushing for a career-high 50 yards on five carries and a touchdown.

Washington's home opener featured plenty of highlights, including left tackle Trey Adams gaining 9 yards on a designed lateral pass that he nearly scored on, and Jomon Dotson's 68-yard interception return in the third quarter that was perhaps better than Pettis' return.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana's Josh Sandry returns an interception for a touchdown during Saturday's game at Washington in Seattle.

Montana quarterback Reese Philips threw for 123 yards, but was intercepted twice. The Grizzlies also had four drives end in Washington's half of the field without points and had four total turnovers.

"Their athleticism and their size and power hurts you as the game goes on and you get a little bit of a snowball effect," Montana coach Bob Stitt said.

Montana played its first game against an FBS opponent since facing Wyoming in 2014 and its first against a Power Five conference team since going to Tennessee in 2011. The Griz don't have another FBS game on their schedule until a 2019 trip to Oregon.

"I hate losing but at the same time they're the real deal. I don't think anyone would disagree with that," Phillips said. "They are very good and we're not going to face a team like that the rest of the year."

The Griz return to Missoula to host Savannah State for the first of two straight home games.


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