CEDAR CITY, Utah — Momentum can be a fickle thing.
The Montana Grizzlies had theirs stolen three weeks in a row during Big Sky Conference football losses to Portland State (22-20), North Dakota (41-14) and UC Davis (49-21). But with one simple drive on Saturday, momentum was back on the Grizzlies’ side.
Montana totaled 635 yards of offense, picked up 33 first downs and earned the program’s most lopsided road win in 19 years, defeating Southern Utah 57-14 on Saturday. The Grizzlies’ defense had two interceptions, while the offense didn’t turn the ball over after giving it away 12 times during the three-game losing streak.
“It’s kind of magic when that happens and the score all of a sudden is what it is,” said head coach Bobby Hauck. “Taking care of the football is a priority, something we have to do if we want to win, and the guys did a good job. We came up with one, so it was good.”
Montana put its foot on the gas early, scoring on its first three possessions of the game and three of the first four in the second half. Momentum certainly found its way back to the Grizzlies’ sideline, perfect timing according to Hauck, as UM remains on the road next weekend at longtime foe Idaho.
“(Idaho is) our second-oldest rival, the team we’ve played the most other than our neighbors to the east,” Hauck said, referencing Montana State. “Certainly we’ll be excited about facing the Vandals this coming week.”
“Right, nothing is better than a rivalry game, so we’ve been looking forward to it, especially now that the Idaho week is here,” added quarterback Dalton Sneed, who threw five touchdowns in Saturday’s win. “Now we’re putting all of our attention to that, and we can’t wait to get out there and play.”
Montana receiver Jerry Louie-McGee is a former Idaho prep standout whose family has history at Idaho State — Louie-McGee’s brother Tucker played for the Bengals — bringing a little extra motivation to Saturday’s contest.
“It’s good to get back into a rivalry, but it’s going to be another game we have to prepare for against a good team, and I’m just excited to get back at it, one week at a time. It’s going to be fun,” he said.
The rivalry renews between the Montana Grizzlies and Idaho Vandals on Saturday, with kickoff slated for 4:30 p.m. MST. It will be the 84th meeting between the programs, with Idaho holding a 55-27-2 advantage. Montana, which has won the past four games in the series, won the most recent game between the two, a 41-28 win in Missoula in 2003.
The Grizzlies have won two straight in Moscow.