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Rapid reaction: Montana Grizzlies 48, Drake Bulldogs 16

Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 08, 2018
The Montana Grizzlies used a big second half to pull away from Drake for a 48-16 win. (MTN Sports photo)

MISSOULA — Dalton Sneed had a hand in three touchdowns and Montana’s defense recorded seven sacks as the 14th-ranked Grizzlies pulled away from Drake for a 48-16 win at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday. Sneed, making his second start at quarterback, completed 31 of 47 pass attempts for 278 yards and two TDs. He added 65 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Receiver Jerry Louie-McGee was Sneed’s biggest beneficiary, catching 14 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

Dante Olson again led an aggressive Montana defense, accumulating 16 total tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble. Drake had just 78 rushing yards, 49 of which came on a fake punt in the third quarter.

TURNING POINT: After Drake seemingly grabbed momentum in the third quarter with a 49-yard touchdown run on a fake punt, Montana answered with nine-play, 64-yard touchdown drive to again go up by two scores. Sneed completed seven passes on the drive, four of which to Louie-McGee, including the 13-yard touchdown. Griz safety Reid Miller intercepted Drake quarterback Grant Kraemer on the Bulldogs’ next play, and Sneed then hit Samuel Akem for a 10-yard score, giving UM a 31-10 lead going into the fourth quarter.

STAT OF THE GAME: Seven sacks and five turnovers. Montana’s defense dominated Drake from the outset, with Olson collecting two sacks; Josh Buss 1.5; Jace Lewis, David Shaw and Jed Nagler one each; and Braydon Deming 0.5. On the turnover front, Dareon Nash had two interceptions, including a pick-6, and a fumble recovery, Reid Miller had an interception, and Buss recovered another fumble. Those five turnovers turned into 24 points for the Grizzlies.

GAME BALLS: Louie-McGee and the Grizzlies’ entire front seven. Sneed and Olson would have been easy picks here, too, but the Bulldogs didn’t have an answer for Louie-McGee, who caught 14 of 15 targets. The Griz got a complete game out of their defense, too, and their front seven — specifically Olson and Buss at linebacker — look like they will be among the best in the Big Sky Conference.

WHAT’S NEXT: Montana hits the road for the first time in the 2018 season, traveling to Western Illinois. The Leathernecks are 0-1 after opening the season with a 26-23 loss at Montana State. WIU plays at FBS University of Illinois at 5:30 p.m. (MST) Saturday. The Grizzlies haven’t started 3-0 since 2013, a season in which they finished 10-3.