CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Bob Stitt likes what he has in Jerry Louie-McGee.
The Montana Grizzly receiver hauled in five receptions for 33 yards and returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown as No. 14 Montana knocked off No. 3 Northern Iowa 20-14 Saturday.
“This game gives us confidence that we can play against anybody on the road,” Stitt said in a UM press release after the game. “This is a tough place, they haven’t lost very many games here just like we don’t lose very many at our place… I think that was very Montanan, to come into this place and come out with a win.”
Louie-McGee’s second quarter punt return gave the Grizzlies a 17-7 advantage and helped spark UM to the upset win.
Montana moves to 2-0 on the season.
Brady Gustafson completed 14 passes for 118 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown toss to Josh Horner. Six different receivers caught balls from Gustafson Saturday.
Louie-McGee’s touchdown electrified the Montana sideline but the game wasn’t over until the final seconds.
Leading by six with only three seconds remaining, Montana prevented the Panthers attempt at a miracle, pouncing on a football as UNI tried to lateral their way into the end zone.
Montana earned the win on the scoreboard, but the statistics certainly favored UNI. The Panthers outgained the Griz 351-206 including a 157-88 yard advantage in the rushing game. Still, Northern Iowa was only 1-4 on red zone attempts. The Griz also recovered two Panther fumbles.
Louie-McGee ignited the Griz on their first drive of the game. The redshirt freshman from Couer d’Alene took a punt return nearly 20 yards on UM’s first touch of the game, then caught two passes for 30 more yards to set up Gustafson’s toss to wide open Horner down the left sideline.
After a Tim Semenza 47-yard field goal gave the Griz a 10-point advantage, UNI responded with a four-minute drive that ended with a Tyvis Smith one-yard scoring run.
But Louie-McGee, who is quickly becoming a crowd favorite, showed why in the second quarter.
Returning a punt near his own 20-yard line, Louie-McGee avoided one tackle to his left before splicing through two Panther defenders and heading toward midfield. One juke and 50 yards later, Montana earned a 17-7 lead.
“I couldn’t tell you how it all happened, but it was pretty awesome scoring my first touchdown,” Louie-McGee said. “I had some great and it lined up all the way to the end zone, it was pretty cool.”
Semenza tacked on a 35-yard field goal before the half to give the Griz a 20-7 lead.
UNI scored halfway through the fourth quarter, a touchdown pass from Aaron Bailey, but the Panthers would get no closer despite Montana not scoring in the second half.
“I’m not worried about what people are going to say, that we didn’t have any points in the second half or not enough yards or whatever, I don’t care, we got the W,” Stitt said. “That is the ultimate goal every week, how do we put these kids on the field and get the win.”
Montana moves to 2-0 on the season and will have a bye next weekend. The Griz travel to Cal Poly to open Big Sky Conference play on Sept. 24.