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Montana football coach Bobby Hauck recalls pair of iconic rivalry games during first tenure

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Posted at 2:33 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 15:23:04-04

MISSOULA — The 2007 and 2008 Montana-Montana State rivalry games are two of the more iconic matchups between the two schools during Bobby Hauck's first tenure with UM.

The 2007 game was another mud bowl, but this one was in Bozeman between the rivals.

Trailing 14-13 at half, Montana exploded in the second half thanks to a pair of touchdown connections between Cole Berquist and Eric Allen as well as a big performance from all-time Griz great running back Lex Hilliard.

From then to now, that game carried a similar theme that Hauck's most recent roster did with a style that wore their opponents down as the game went on which allowed the Grizzlies to take control and run away with the win.

"I think that’s kind of our mentality, our personality," Hauck said. "You know a year ago we led the nation in second half point differential, we were plus 150-some points in the second half in '19 and that’s hopefully the DNA of our program."

Hilliard finished with 181 yards and three touchdowns for Montana as the Grizzlies won 41-20.

His longest run came at the end, a 31-yard scamper to the end zone that sealed the win in the final minutes, and provided one of the most iconic moments of Griz football history when Hauck embraced him on the sideline after.

"Yeah I remember distinctly, we’ve got that picture up in our office and I actually made a copy of it and gave it to president (George) Dennison," Hauck said with a smile. "He had it in his office so that was a good day and that was a capper, that was the one that let everybody know this one was over."

The following year in 2008 was a home surprise for the fans in Missoula.

After warming up in their maroon jerseys before the game, Montana went into the locker room and swapped into the retro copper and gold uniforms, and treated the Griz faithful to a blast from the past when they took the field.

"It was awesome, it’s my favorite game," Hauck said. "In all my times being in that stadium, it’s my No. 1 favorite game. I just remember it being kind of a joyful, fun day from showing the guys the uniforms that morning in the team meeting to the end of it."

That year the Grizzlies beat the Bobcats 35-3, highlighted by a punt return touchdown by Marc Mariani and an interception return for a score by George Mercer. But the story was the energy in the crowd with the throwbacks, which is firmly in Hauck's mind as he said that game and his first home game back in his second tenure against Northern Iowa in 2018 are the two entrances to the field he remembers most vividly.

"I do remember friends of mine that wore copper jerseys, I looked up in the stands as our guys were getting ready to go and the coin toss was going on, you had guys with tears in their eyes," Hauck said. "I just thought it was cool and I thought it was a real example of what Grizzly football means to people in this state, in particular the guys that wore those uniforms."

Grizzly Gridiron Classics

Missoula MTN affiliate KPAX-TV is airing classic Montana Griz football games on its new streaming app.

Each week, KPAX will air a different Griz game coupled with features and more from those who starred in those contests. MTN Sports caught up with Hauck to reminisce about those games against the Bobcats in 2007 and 2008. The 2007 game aired on Friday, Aug. 27 while the 2008 game airs on Friday, Sept. 3.

If you don't have the KPAX streaming app, here is a step-by-step how to download it. Here is a video tutorial as well.

Grizzly Gridiron Classics will air on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time and again on Saturdays and Sundays at noon and 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time on the streaming app.