CEDAR CITY, Utah — It was only the second time the Montana Grizzlies visited Eccles Coliseum, but UM seemed right at home Saturday afternoon. Montana defeated Southern Utah 57-14 behind five Dalton Sneed touchdown passes, ending the Grizzlies’ three-game losing streak.
“It’s not lost on us that these guys are the defending conference champions, so to come in here and hang it on them like that was pretty rewarding,” said Montana head coach Bobby Hauck. “It was good for our team to get a win, certainly it’s been a few weeks. I love it. Offense, defense, kicking game, we won in all three phases, and that’s why the score was what it was.”
Sneed and the Griz wasted little time, scoring on the game’s first possession, an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with the UM quarterback finding Jerry Louie-McGee for a 14-yard receiving touchdown. The quick score, which took only 3:06 off the clock, was pivotal in setting the tone for the game.
“It’s always good to come out right out of the gate and get the first score,” said Louie-McGee. “That was nice. We know how good our kickoff team is and that our defense would come out and play, so I was happy with how that worked out, of course.”
Louie-McGee finished with five catches for 87 yards and the touchdown. He also had a punt return touchdown called back following a penalty on the Grizzlies’ special teams unit.
But Sneed stole the show Saturday, finding the rhythm that made UM’s offense dangerous during its fast start to the season. The redshirt junior completed 21 of 33 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns, hitting nine different receivers during the game.
“I just executed, hit guys in stride. They did a phenomenal job, every single receiver, creating separation, so it made throws super easy,” said Sneed. “I hit them and did what I was supposed to do.”
“I’ll have to watch the film, but from where I was watching on the sideline, where you can’t see much, I thought he was pretty special,” Hauck said of Sneed’s performance. “We want to be balanced, so what was our run-versus-pass? We had 48 rushes and 36 passes, so we probably need to throw it a little more and get back to 50-50.”
Montana’s defense was equally impressive Saturday, limiting Southern Utah’s powerful ground game, which had averaged 211 yards per contest entering the week, to only 73 yards. Thunderbird running back Jay Green Jr. rushed 16 times for only 49 yards and was held out of the end zone.
“It was good. That’s what they have been able to hang their hat on and get after people. Any time you’re rushing for over 200, which they were, it’s a pretty salty outfit,” said Hauck. “I really think they have a good offensive line and our guys did a great job (Saturday).”
Robby Hauck led UM’s defense with seven total tackles, while Marcus Welnel posted the only Grizzlies’ sack. Josh Buss and Josh Sandry each grabbed interceptions, both leading to touchdowns.
The Grizzlies return to Missoula to prepare for another conference road game, next Saturday at Idaho, as the Vandals and Grizzlies renew their rivalry as Big Sky Conference foes.
“It’s good to get back to that rivalry, but it’s just another game we have to prepare for against a good team,” said Louie-McGee. “I’m just excited to get back at it one week at a time. It’s going to be fun.”
Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. MST and will be broadcast live on ROOT Sports.