Cats fight off Leathernecks; Grizzlies give Ducks a battle

Cat-Griz Report


September 16, 2019

Montana's Jerry Louie-McGee, left, hauls in a pass during Saturday night's game at Pac 12 Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. The Grizzlies lost 35-3, but, McGee became the all-time record holder at UM for catches. While the Griz fell for the first time this season, the Montana State Bobcats captured a road win at Western Illinois Saturday afternoon.

MACOMB, Ill. — It wasn't easy. But the Montana State Bobcats got the job done on the road.

Logan Jones ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns and No. 10 Montana State defeated Western Illinois 23-14 on Saturday.

Jones, a senior who more than doubled his career rushing total of 152 yards, started in place of injured Isaiah Ifanse. Jones opened the scoring with a 14-yard run in the first quarter and added MSU's only other touchdown on an 87-yard jaunt in the third quarter.

The game was tied at 7-7 at halftime before MSU — No. 15 in FCS Coaches' Poll — scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, the touchdown coming on Jones' long run.

Western Illinois cut it to 17-14 on a 3-yard run by Jared Drake that capped an 8-play, 75-yard drive.

Western Illinois (0-3) drove toward a go-ahead score and reached the MSU 25 before the Bobcats' Damien Washington intercepted a pass by Connor Sampson.

Montana State (2-1) drove deep into Leathernecks territory but WIU held for a field goal and again drove for the potential go-ahead score.

The Leathernecks reached the MSU 13-yard line, but offensive holding and two incomplete passes left them facing 4th-and-14 from the 18. They settled for a 35-yard field-goal attempt that was missed by Nathan Erickson.

Montana State took possession with 6:57 remaining and drove to the WIU 30, facing 4th-and-5 with 2:45 to go. Tristan Bailey, who was good on all three of his tries, kicked a 47-yard field goal for the final margin.

Sampson was 18-of-35 for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

MSU's Casey Bauman was 16-of-30 for 149 yards.

The Bobcats return home to wrap up non-conference play this Saturday when they take on Norfolk State at Bobcat Stadium.

Oregon 35, Griz 3

Under the bright lights of Autzen Stadium, the No. 20 Montana Grizzlies did more than nayone thought they'd do.

The FCS Grizzlies did a good job limiting No. 15 Oregon's high-powered offense late Saturday night in front of a crowd of nearly 50,000 in Eugene, Oregon, but the Ducks were too much to handle as Montana lost 35-3 to the Pac 12 powerhouse.

"I'm disappointed we didn't come in here and get the win, but they have a really good football team," head coach Bobby Hauck said in his postgame press conference. "They were better on defense than I thought they were going to be, and they have a really nice team. The quarterback is just terrific, and we just didn't have enough for them tonight."

Jerry Louie-McGee made history under the bright lights of Autzen Stadium, breaking Raul Pacheco's record to become Montana's all-time receptions leader. The senior caught six passes, increasing his career total to 196. He is also just six yards shy of breaking the 2,000 yard mark.

Montana's defense,led by Oregon native Dante Olson, put forth a valiant effort against one of the best offenses in the country. Olson was everywhere, making 10 solo tackles and 14 total stops. Montana didn't allow many big plays to the Ducks, and Olson was a huge part of that, making some impressive solo tackles in the open field. Robby Hauck also had a good defensive game with nine tackles.

The Grizzlies were beat through the air by the talented Herbert, but they did a good job limiting Oregon's rushing attack. A veteran offensive line of the Ducks didn't create the mismatch that many may have expected entering the game.

On offense, the Griz found most of their success through the air, throwing for 234 of their 242 total yards. Dalton Sneed had a good night in just over three quarters of work, completing 20 passes for 184 yards. Samuel Akem and Louie-McGee helped him out, each hauling in six receptions. Akem had 85 yards; Louie-McGee went for 66 yards..

Montana had 12 drives and entered Oregon territory on half of them, doing well to get the defense some rest and not allow the Ducks offense to get much momentum. After scoring 77 points last week against Nevada, Montana held Mario Cristobal's team to less than half of that total. This is Montana's seventh straight loss against an FBS opponent.

Montana remained competitive against the Ducks for most of the game, and nearly entered the half trailing by just two scores. But Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert had a huge game, proving that he is one of the premier players in the entire country. He went 30-42 for 316 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the first player in Oregon's storied history to throw 5+ touchdowns in back-to-back games.

"He's a good player," Hauck said of the Oregon playcaller. "I've talked about him all week, I had high regards for him all week and I think he's just a smooth operator."

Last week, Montana's special teams made headlines with Louie-McGee's punt return touchdown. This week, punter Adam Wilson had himself a game, pinning Oregon inside their own 20 on six of his eight punts.

Oregon chose to receive the opening kick and backed up their confidence, as the fast-paced Ducks offense drove 75 yards in just over three minutes to score a touchdown on the first drive of the game.

The Griz defense did force a three-and-out on Oregon's second possession, but Herbert and the Ducks responded on their third drive. The Heisman Trophy candidate led another impressive touchdown drive and started the game 10-for-10 with 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Montana started a drive late in the second quarter that moved into Oregon territory. Akem again had a big first down catch that moved the Griz to the Oregon 40-yard line. Once again, Montana was forced to punt, but Adam Wilson continued an impressive night by pinning the Ducks back at their own five. It was the third straight punt that Wilson placed inside the Oregon 20.

The Grizzly defense settled into the game after the first three drives, forcing a punt and then a turnover-on-downs with two minutes left, giving the offense great field position. Sneed and Co. quickly took advantage with a 22-yard pass to Louie-McGee on the outside, moving the Griz into Oregon territory for the second time. Brandon Purdy attempted a career-long 50-yard field goal with 54 seconds in the half, missing just short and right.

Oregon then went into the two-minute drill, driving into the red zone. Montana nearly made a big play as the Grizzly defensive line got hands on Herbert behind the line of scrimmage, but the Oregon quarterback broke free and delivered an 18-yard strike to put Oregon up 21-0 at the half. Montana started the second half with the ball, and again Sneed and Akem connected on a third down completion that moved the chains. Akem had another catch to set up fourth-and-one, and the Griz moved quickly, handing off to Marcus Knight for a conversion. Mykael Wright ended the Grizzly drive by jumping a slant route and intercepting a Sneed pass.

Oregon drove quickly down the field and Herbert delivered his fourth passing touchdown of the game to put the home team ahead 28-0. The Ducks got the ball back and drove into Griz territory again, but the defense held strong and forced a turnover-on-downs on the Montana 25-yard line.

On the first play of the next drive, Sneed found Louie-McGee for his 192nd career catch, tying Raul Pacheco's school record. On third down, Louie-McGee would break the record, hauling in a 30-yard pass to put the Griz in Oregon territory yet again.

Sneed connected with Samori Toure to move Montana to Oregon's 24-yard line. Louie-McGee hauled in his third catch of the drive on a quick screen pass to the outside and turned it into 13 yard gain to put the Grizzlies in the red zone. Montana got tricky on third down, throwing a screen pass to Louie-McGee who then pitched it to Knight out of the backfield for an eight-yard gain, but the Grizzlies came just short of a first down. Purdy knocked a 25-yard field goal through to put Montana on the board with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Grizzlies would fall behind 35-3 in the fourth quarter, and used the final eight minutes to build the experience of backup quarterback Cam Humphrey. Humphrey found Akem for another big reception on third down, moving the Grizzlies into Oregon territory for the fifth time on the night.

Humphrey would lead another drive into Oregon territory, but the Oregon defense didn't allow them to find the end zone. This is the second straight week that the Ducks have held their opponent from scoring a touchdown, after Nevada scored just six points against them last week.

The Griz return to Missoula to finish non-conference play this Saturday when they host the Monmouth Hawks inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Note: Havre Daily News sports editor George Ferguson contributed to this story.


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