MISSOULA — Montana football’s third consecutive loss was heart-breaking on many levels. The Grizzlies blew a big lead and a big opportunity for a marquee win, while getting blown out in the fourth quarter en route to a 49-21 loss. But an optimist can still find plenty to smile about, especially on defense.
The Grizzlies held UC Davis, the Big Sky Conference’s top scoring and passing offense, to only three points and 113 yards in the first half. The Aggies gained 229 yards and scored 36 points in the fourth quarter alone, but for the majority of the game, UM’s defense had the upper hand.
They hope to copy that stretch, while extending it a little longer, over the final three weeks of the season.
“I thought we practiced at a high level all week. We were getting after it all week, and I think that carried over to Saturday,” said linebacker Jace Lewis. “Like coach (Bobby Hauck) said, we just need to finish in those last couple quarters.”
“There’s definitely some good stuff on tape, as well, that we can look at and say, ‘Hey, this is how we need to play,'” added defensive end and senior captain Reggie Tilleman. “Because I think a lot of guys were out there just having fun, flying around in those first three quarters. If you emulate it throughout the whole game, then it’s going to be a good deal.”
Overall, Montana’s defense ranks in the middle of the pack in the conference. Southern Utah has put up decent offensive numbers, despite its 1-7 record. The Grizzlies and Thunderbirds collide at 1 p.m. Saturday in Cedar City.