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Montana Grizzlies were ‘mentally tough’ after slow start at Western Illinois

Posted at 6:50 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-17 20:53:07-04

MISSOULA – Montana finished non-conference play 2-1, and that’s how head coach Bobby Hauck expects his team to be judged.

On Monday, he re-emphasized his position that there’s never a bad win or a good loss, but Hauck’s Grizzlies did show plenty of good in their first setback of the year.

Montana fell behind 14-0 in just a couple minutes at Western Illinois and gave up another 14 to lose in the final five minutes. But in the 50-plus minutes in between, the Griz dominated the Leathernecks, out-scoring the them 27-3.

Hauck doesn’t like moral victories, but his team did prove it has resilience and toughness that could make a big difference down the road.

“We stayed calm on the sideline,” said safety Reid Miller addressing the quick 14-0 hole. “Coach Hauck stayed calm. He told us to stay calm, and I think that’s the biggest thing. If you start worrying early in the game, the game is not going to go well. So stay calm, and go to the game plan, what the coaches teach us throughout the week.”

“Early in the game showed we were pretty mentally tough,” Hauck said about his team’s quick comeback. Montana scored 18 points in the first quarter to dig out of that 14-0 deficit.

“The conditions were rough, down 14-0,” Hauck continued. “Our defense played great after Play 2 and Play 3. They didn’t do anything, really, after that.”

One place the Grizzlies struggled in Macomb came in an area they had shined in the first two games. Montana’s turnover margin was plus-five, but took a hit when the Griz turned the ball over four times at Western Illinois. Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed took the blame for the turnovers and said his biggest takeaway from Saturday was simply that the team “needs to play better.”

Montana fell to 19th in the newest STATS FCS rankings, a drop of five places from the previous week. Sacramento State is on the outside of the top 25, with the 32nd-most votes in the poll. The Hornets will come to Missoula to take on the Grizzlies this Saturday.