FARGO, N.D. — The Montana Grizzlies ran out of steam on Saturday in Fargo when they lost to the North Dakota State Bison 49-26 to see their season come to a close at 8-5 overall.
The Bison started fast with two Cam Miller touchdowns to make it 14-0, but a response from the Griz to trim the deficit showed that UM was capable of hanging with NDSU on the field.
"I mean, the first 20 plays usually are scripted," Griz senior safety Robby Hauck said. "You're going to get a lot of different personnel, lot of different formations, different run game, different pass game. So once we settled in and they got into the things we thought they'd be in we were able to hunker down a little bit."
That remained the case as the Griz seemed to go blow for blow with the Bison in the first half despite the slow start, though NDSU's late scoop and score touchdown gave the Bison some breathing room as UM was looking to drive one more time before half.
Then in the third quarter when Corbin Walker took an interception back for a score to make it a one-point game, 21-20, the momentum was all on Montana's side.
"I actually felt good about the game and our opportunity to come in and win it," Griz coach Bobby Hauck said. "Obviously they came and immediately took control of the game back from us and after that they made some plays that we didn't. At that point we didn't generate enough first downs and didn't get down the field and it just kind of got away there."
On the very next play from scrimmage for NDSU, Kobe Johnson took it 75 yards for a score, as the Bison delivered a crushing shot.
"They always have them targeted really well," Bobby Hauck said of NDSU's play-calling. "They don't get fooled and the two big plays where the guys came out where we kind of had it stalemated at the line of scrimmage and then didn't get them down, and then all of a sudden he's out and running in the open field, that's not very good by us."
From there, things snowballed.
TaMerik Williams also broke free from tackles to make it a two-score game, then Johnson added another long score early in the fourth quarter that effectively served as the backbreaker, as the Bison had four touchdowns go 68 yards or longer
"It's just an unfortunate thing where you got the ball carrier wrapped up and he's able to break a tackle loose and get into the open field," Robby Hauck said. "A team like them, they're so fundamentally sound and rarely make mistakes and you got to capitalize when you can make plays."
Griz quarterback Lucas Johnson left the game due to a knee injury after the second quarter fumble and Daniel Britt took over.
Britt would go on to throw two interceptions in the second half, and aside from a late touchdown, the offense stalled as the Grizzlies were unable to climb out a hole for the second straight playoff game, resulting in their season, coming to a close.
"Up front they did a good job getting pressure on us, and I think looking in the mirror I think getting open, could've done a better job doing that," Griz senior receiver Mitch Roberts said. "But they did a good job throwing us off rhythm a little bit and it caused some problems for us, completing passes downfield a little bit."