MISSOULA — The Montana Grizzly football team bounced back with a much needed win over the University of Idaho last Saturday. The Grizzlies are now hitting the home stretch of the regular season, and next up for them this weekend is a home contest with Southern Utah.
With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Grizzlies are inching closer to solidifying their spot in the postseason.
With the win over Idaho, Montana rebounded after losing to Sac State the week prior, putting the Grizzlies at 2-2 in the Big Sky Conference and 5-2 overall.
UM will be in prime position to add another win this weekend when they host Southern Utah, a team on its way out of the Big Sky Conference in a season where they're 1-7 overall and 0-5 in league play.
The Grizzlies are also coming off of one of their best performances of the year both offensively and defensively.
On offense, quarterback Kris Brown had his best start as the Grizzlies took more shots downfield and were able to move the ball better against the Vandals than against the Hornets. Brown finished the game 19 for 34 for 256 yards, the most passing yards for a Griz QB this year. He also connected with Cole Grossman for a touchdown and ran for another. Receiver Mitch Roberts finished with a career day as well with seven catches for 145 yards while Samuel Akem added seven catches for 72 yards. Running back Junior Bergen added 77 yards on the ground and a pair of scores.
"It felt great to get the ball moving again on the outside and receivers making some plays deep down the field so it’s been good," Roberts said. "We just got into a tempo and once we got into a little bit of a tempo it slowed them down a little bit and we got into a rhythm so things started clicking from there."
Defensively, Montana picked off Idaho twice as Justin Ford and Omar Hicks Onu grabbed interceptions. Ford currently leads the Big Sky Conference in interceptions with five in as many games. The Griz defense also racked up six sacks, led by Patrick O'Connell who had a pair. O'Connell also leads the Big Sky in sacks with 9.5 on the year.
Southern Utah will join the Western Athletic Conference after this season but in their final season in the Big Sky, the Thunderbirds currently sit in last place in the conference, making Saturday's game one the Grizzlies won't want to slip up in.
"I think we’re a confident football team," Griz coach Bobby Hauck said after the win over Idaho. "None of that’s changed, I suppose, if you lose a game human nature would say that maybe you question yourself but beyond what human nature says I think we’ve got a confident team."