DAVIS, Calif. -- A year ago, the Montana Grizzlies had UC Davis on the ropes, leading 21-3 at halftime in Missoula, before surrendering 46 straight in the second half in a heartbreaking, frustrating loss.
So on Saturday, when the Griz broke open a 17-7 halftime lead with 21 straight to open the third quarter on the way to a 45-20 upset over the No. 4 Aggies, it felt good.
"We really put in the work this week, and I think that showed today," said quarterback Dalton Sneed. "We came in and we've been lingering on this UC Davis thing for a year now and know that we let it go in the second half last year, and that was a big emphasis for us, finishing, and we did that today."
Sneed, who threw three interceptions in last year's loss, was accurate and locked in on Saturday completing 22-of-33 attempts for 268 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 81 yards on the ground on 10 carries.
The Griz added 260 yards on the ground, led by Marcus Knight with 91 yards.
"It was the best game our offensive line played," Sneed said. "Every game they've just gotten better and better. When we have a third-and-1 or third-and-short, I trust them to go out and get it."
The game started slowly with both teams trading three-and-outs for the first few possessions. Montana broke through with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter when Sneed hit Samori Toure for a 16-yard score to put the Griz up 7-0.
Montana opened the second quarter with a scoring drive, capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Sneed to Bryson Deming. Davis answered with a touchdown drive when Jake Meier hit Carson Crawford on a slant to cut the lead to 14-7.
Brandon Purdy added a field goal as time expired in the half to give the Griz a 17-7 lead heading to the locker room.
It only took three plays for Montana score in the third quarter. Sneed hit Samuel Akem in stride for a 62-yard touchdown to make it 24-7, just 40 seconds into the half. Montana then forced fumbles on subsequent possessions and turned the short field into two scores, both touchdown receptions from Jerry Louie-McGee.
The Griz led 38-7 before the Aggies could answer with two touchdowns of their own to trim the lead to 18, but Knight's 1-yard plunge with 7:58 remaining in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 45-20, which would hold.
"When you go on the road and beat the No. 4-ranked team in the country at their place and get them pretty good, it's a good win for your team," said Griz head coach Bobby Hauck. "I know that we've been a good second half football team, historically and this year, and I just think that some of the things we've been working on for 20 months are taking hold."
Montana (4-1, 1-0) returns home next Saturday, Oct. 5 for a date with Idaho State (2-2, 1-0) which is coming off a win over Portland State. Kickoff in Washington Grizzly Stadium is set for 1 p.m.