Griz roll past USD; Bobcats overwhelmed at Texas Tech

Cat-Griz Report

 

September 3, 2019

406 Sports

Montana's Dalton Sneed throws a pass during last Saturday's FCS game between the Grizzlies and South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota. The Grizzlies won their season-opener 31-17.

VERMILLION, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Montana Grizzlies watned to set the tone for the 2019 season. And beating an arch rival from the Missourio Valley Conference certainly did the trick.

Saturday, the No. 25 Grizzlies opened their 2019 campaign with a 31-17 road win at South Dakota.

"I don't really think the score says what a beatdown it was," Montana head coach Bobby Hauck said in his postgame press conference. “We missed a short field goal. We threw a pick on the six, and we took a knee on the five at the end of the game. It was a helluva performance by our guys. I'm really proud of them."

Montana was kept off the scoreboard through the opening quarter and the game's first 21-plus minutes. That's when the offense finally got rolling.

The Grizzlies would score on five straight possessions over the second and third quarters, going touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. All four drives that ended with a touchdown covered 65 yards or more.

After South Dakota opened the scoring with a 20-yard field goal early in the second quarter, Montana answered with a nine-play, 67-yard drive that ended with Sneed finding Toure for a 16-yard touchdown.

Sneed made it 14-3 when he took the ball in from two yards out later in the quarter, the only run on a drive that covered 82 yards in eight plays. The quarterback, who looked like a redshirt senior in complete control of his team's offense, went 7 for 7 on the drive for 80 yards, hitting five different receivers.


Some were quick strikes, some came after Sneed stepped up in the pocket after waiting for the play to develop, a level of patience and trust in the teammates protecting him that wasn't always there in 2018.

"As evidenced by the passing totals and the easy completions, they were ganging up on (the run) and gave us numerous fronts we hadn't practiced against," said Hauck.

"We still have a young O-line. They struggled a little bit early on, but all in all it was a pretty complete game. Dalton was able to step up in the pocket. He trusted them to get things picked up. That was something we never saw last year."

One of the game's easily overlooked plays came just before halftime, after South Dakota scored to make it 14-10 with 45 seconds on the clock.

After Malik Flowers, who had four kickoff returns for 116 yards and is going to keep opposing special teams coaches awake at night, gave his team the ball at the 37, Montana's offensive coaches called a draw to Marcus Knight, an exploratory look at what might develop.


With South Dakota defending the deep throw, Knight found plenty of open space and rolled off 17 yards to get the ball into USD territory. It convinced Montana's coaches to go for points over running out the clock. Thirty-three seconds later Brandon Purdy connected on a 43-yard field goal to give the Grizzlies a 17-10 lead at the half.

The momentum of that decision carried into the second half.

Sneed connected with Akem on a 43-yard scoring strike on the opening possession of the third quarter, the quarterback's calm response to an all-out blitz on third-and-5.

Knight made it 31-17 later in the third quarter when he took a pass in the left flat and casually sidestepped two Coyotes on his way to a six-yard score.

After the offense was done setting the table, the defense finished the game off in the fourth quarter, twice turning South Dakota over on downs in Montana territory. The Coyotes' final possession ended with Justin Calhoun coming up with an interception.

Montana held the ball for more than 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, a good chunk of that coming on a drive that started at its own six and ended 11 plays later with an interception in the opposite end zone. The drive didn't end with points, but it bled the clock and drained a little more hope out of a South Dakota comeback.

"It wasn't as clean as we wanted it to be. There are definitely some things we didn't do well enough. We've got to run the ball better," said Hauck, whose team rushed for 80 yards.

"But it was a pretty dang good effort. The effort level for a first game was pretty exemplary."

Montana will make its home debut Saturday at 7 p.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium against North Alabama, a team that picked up an impressive 26-17 home win Thursday night over Western Illinois in its season opener.

Texas Tech 45, Bobcats 10

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech jumped out to a two-touchdown lead and never trailed as No. 14 Montana State football dropped its 2019 season opener to the Big 12's Red Raiders 45-10 on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

The Red Raiders found the end zone on their first two drives of the game to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Quarterback Alan Bowman led Texas Tech on consecutive drives that spanned 85 and 79 yards.

Montana State got on the board in the second quarter to cut the deficit to a one-score game.

Texas Tech drove into Bobcat territory as Bowman connected with receiver Xavier White, but Jahque Alleyne forced a Red Raider fumble at the goal line and recovered it in the end zone. MSU quarterback Casey Bauman completed a pass to Kevin Kassis on the ensuing drive for 35 yards to put the Bobcats into Texas Tech territory. After a short run on first down, Bauman found Coy Steel down the seam for a 31-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. The touchdown was the first for each in their Bobcat careers.


The Red Raiders found the end zone two more times before halftime and eventually scored 24 consecutive points before Montana State got on the board again behind a 37-yard field goal by Tristan Bailey in the fourth quarter.

Bowman finished the game by going 40-for-55 through the air and 436 yards passing. The Red Raiders also gained 255 yards on the ground as Armand Shyne led the way with 125 yards on 11 carries. Eleven Red Raiders caught passes as Texas Tech racked up 691 yards of total offense. Their defense was paced by Jordyn Brooks's 11 tackles.

Bauman went 7 of 19 passing and threw for 120 yards. Isaiah Ifanse ran for 77 of MSU's 123 rushing yards, which included a 40-yard carry. Steel and Kassis each had three catches with 56 and 44 yards receiving, respectively.

The Bobcat defense forced the lone turnover of the game. Brayden Konkol, Tyrel Thomas, Ty'Rhae Gibson and Level Price Jr.all had pass breakups, with Price Jr.'s leading to a turnover on downs. Konkol had a team-high nine tackles while Bryce Sterk registered a sack for Montana State.

Montana State returns home for its second game of the season and home opener as the Bobcats host Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. Kickoff at Bobcat Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

 

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