MISSOULA — Sports got into full swing this past week at the University of Montana with football and cross country making their season debuts.
In football, the Grizzlies (1-0) started off the season strong with a 35-20 victory over Butler at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. UM got a big performance out of redshirt freshman running back Eli Gillman, who ran for 119 yards and one touchdown. The Grizzlies also saw both of their quarterbacks in Sam Vidlak and Clifton McDowell showcase their skills, with McDowell running for 80 yards and a touchdown while Vidlak went 15 for 25 with 180 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Griz defense also clamped down after Butler made it a one-point game in the third quarter, with a viral hit from Nash Fouch and an interception from Trevin Gradney sparking the defense as they closed the game out.
In cross country, the UM men and women opened the season in Bozeman at the Bobcat Twilight Meet against Montana State. Maxwell Scott led the Griz men with a sixth-place finish while Cooper Morris and Lane Cole rounded out the top three Griz placers at eighth and ninth, respectively.
In the women's race, Jade Hallgrimson was the first to cross the finish line for Montana in 10th, followed by twin sister Jaylyn Hallgrimson (12th) and Iris McKean (14th) as the top three placers for Montana.
In soccer, it was another big week for the Griz soccer program as Montana earned a road sweep in Spokane, Washington, at a neutral-site tournament at Gonzaga University.
Montana (5-0-1) toppled Utah Tech with a 4-0 blowout win on Thursday, and followed that up with a Power 5 victory over Oklahoma 1-0 on Sunday.
Against Utah Tech, Maddie Ditta, Ava Samuelson, Sydney Haustein and Kathleen Aitchison all scored for the Grizzlies. Then against Oklahoma, Aitchison scored in the 39th minute and the Grizzlies never looked back. Keeper Ashlyn Dvorak had five saves in the same to preserve the win for Montana.
In volleyball, UM made a cross-country trek to Buffalo, New York, for a tournament and three games. The Grizzlies (1-5) have had a rugged non-conference slate with two tournaments to start the season, and they notched their first win of the season against Binghamton last Thursday with a 3-2 win. They followed that up with losses to Buffalo and DePaul.
Against Binghamton, Catie Semadeni led the way with 18 kills for the Grizzlies while Paige Clark and Maddie Kremer each added 14. Sarah Ashley paced UM with four aces while Carly Anderson had four blocks to lead the team.
Anderson racked up 52 assists while Kremer had 24 digs to lead UM.
It's another full slate of sports on deck this week for UM athletics.
Football hits the road for the first time this season as they get set to take on Utah Tech (0-1) on Saturday in St. George, Utah. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Volleyball is on the road for another tournament this week and will head to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the UND Classic. UM will take on Green Bay on Thursday, New Mexico on Friday followed by North Dakota on Saturday.
Soccer is home again for a pair of big non-conference games. The Grizzlies will welcome Mountain West foe Colorado State to Missoula on Thursday at 5 p.m. They'll then take on Georgia Southern on Sunday at 1 p.m. at South Campus Stadium.
The women's tennis team will also compete at the Idaho State Invitational Friday through Sunday.