DAVIS, CA — The No. 18 Montana Grizzlies (4-1) opened Big Sky Conference play with a statement win, topping No. 4 UC Davis (2-3) 45-20.
The win was a complete reversal from last year's meeting between the two teams in Missoula. In 2018, Montana built a 21-3 lead at half time before surrendering 46 straight to start the second half in a 49-21 rout.
This year, the Griz led 17-7 at half and scored 21 points in the third quarter to jump out to a 38-7 lead and held on the rest of the way.
Senior quarterback Dalton Sneed was spectacular, throwing 22-of-33 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He also picked up 81 rushing yards on 10 carries, including several key third cown conversions.
TURNING POINT: Halftime. Although the Griz held a 10 point lead at the break, it didn't feel safe after last year's game. But Samuel Akem hauled in a 62-yard touchdown on the third play of the third quarter to put Montana firmly in command.
STAT OF THE GAME: Total offense. Everything worked for Montana's offense on Saturday, and it showed on the stat sheet with 528 total yards (260 rushing, 268 passing). The offensive line played what Dalton Sneed called their "best game of the year", helping the Griz convert 7 of 13 third downs.
GAME BALLS: Sneed and Montana defensive lineman Ryder Rice. Rice only had three total tackles, but he had a hand in two crucial turnovers that each led to Montana touchdowns. After Montana scored in the third to take a 24-7 lead, Rice recovered a fumble deep in Aggie territory. On the next possession, the Rocky Mountain transfer forced a fumble that led to another score.
WHAT’S NEXT: Montana (4-1 overall, 1-0 in Big Sky Conference play) returns home to face Idaho State (2-2, 1-0). Homecoming Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. MDT.