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No. 3 Montana shuts down Portland State for sixth straight win

Griz at Portland State
Posted at 10:09 PM, Nov 11, 2023

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Montana will take its red-hot streak into the Brawl of the Wild.

The third-ranked Grizzlies easily got past Portland State 34-10 Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium behind another outstanding game from quarterback Clifton McDowell and stellar defensive performance.

After Portland State kicked a field goal on the game's first possession, McDowell and the Griz offense had no troubles moving down the field on a 12-play, 77-yard drive. McDowell capped the possession with a short touchdown run, and Montana didn't look back the rest of the way. McDowell scored two more rushing touchdowns — one in the second quarter and one in the third — and Nick Ostmo added another, as Montana built a 24-3 halftime lead and pushed it to 31-3 in the third quarter.

Montana totaled 489 yards of offense — 258 through the air and 231 on the ground. McDowell threw for 127 yards and rushed for 72. Eli Gillman had a team-high 97 yards on the ground, while Junior Bergen and Keelan White each had 69 yards receiving.

The Griz defense has been spectacular in the three games since Montana's open week. After shutting out Northern Colorado and shutting down Sacramento State, Montana controlled Portland State on Saturday. Braxton Hill, Ryan Tirrell, Tyler Clink and Co. stymied the Vikings' offense, which couldn't get anything going, especially on the ground. Portland State had just 255 total yards of offense.

The Vikings finally got in the end zone midway through the third quarter when quarterback Dante Chachere connected with Jermaine Braddock for a 64-yard touchdown.

That long touchdown was the final scoring play of the game, though, as Montana iced the game away and gave snaps to reserve players. Freshman quarterback Keali'i Ah Yat got into a game for the second time this season and completed 10 of 15 passes for 131 yards.

Montana (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Sky) has now won six consecutive games since losing at Northern Arizona to kick off its Big Sky Conference slate back in September. 

Turning point: On the first possession of the game, Portland State gained 49 yards on its first four plays and ultimately entered the red zone. Montana's defense tightened and forced the Vikings to settle for a field goal. That was the offensive highlight for PSU until more than halfway through the third quarter. The Vikings punted on their next four possessions and didn't get past the Montana 47-yard line again until Chachere found Braddock for the long third-quarter touchdown.

Stat of the game: It didn't matter who was carrying the football for Montana, Portland State's defenders struggled to wrap up the Grizzly ball-carriers. The Griz racked up 231 rushing yards with Gillman gaining 97 yards on 17 carries and McDowell adding 72 yards on eight totes.

Meanwhile, the Montana defense stifled the Vikings' prolific rushing attack. Portland State entered the game averaging 229.9 rushing yards per game, the second-most in the Big Sky Conference, but had just 93 rushing yards Saturday. 

Grizzly game balls: QB Clifton McDowell (Offense). McDowell had another effective dual-threat game, rushing for 72 yards and three touchdowns and completing 9 of 14 passes for 127 yards. He's undefeated as the Griz starter this season.

LB Riley Wilson (Defense). Montana's linebackers were sensational again, and Wilson made the biggest impact plays recording two sacks. He had four solo tackles in the game (Braxton Hill had a team-high seven tops, Ryan Tirrell had five and Tyler Flink had four) as the Montana defense limited Portland State to just nine first downs.

PK Nico Ramos (Special teams). The redshirt senior made his first field goal of the season when he booted through a 19-yard field goal to end the first half. He added a 36-yard field goal late in the third quarter and also converted all four of his point-after tries.

What’s next: The Griz take their six-game winning streak into their annual rivalry showdown with Montana State. The 122nd Cat-Griz football game kicks off at noon on Nov. 18 inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium with plenty on the line. After No. 4 Idaho lost to Weber State on Saturday, the Cat-Griz winner will clinch the Big Sky Conference championship outright and what figures to be a high seed for the FCS playoffs.