MISSOULA — The No. 11 Montana Grizzlies held on in a penalty-ridden game to beat Southern Utah 20-19 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The Grizzlies (6-2, 3-2 Big Sky Conference) had 12 penalties accepted against them for 125 yards compared to Southern Utah's three for 20 yards.
Kris Brown started at quarterback for Montana but Cam Humphrey, the typical starter who has missed the last three games with injury, also made an appearance. Humphrey finished 10 for 14 for 86 yards while Brown was 17 for 23 for 186 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Brown's touchdown pass was to tight end Cole Grossman.
Trailing 9-3, Justin Ford picked off a pass and took it back for a score to give Montana its first lead, 10-9. Kevin Macias also went 2 for 2 on field goals. The Grizzlies racked up 373 total yards on offense while Southern Utah (1-8, 0-6) was held to 299 yards on offense. The Grizzlies also had four total turnovers compared to one for Southern Utah.
Marcus Welnel saved the game and blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt with 3:06 remaining to preserve Montana's lead, and the Griz offense milked the clock to win the game.
TURNING POINT: Ford's pick-6. The Grizzlies were down 9-0 and settled for a Macias field goal in the second quarter. On the first play of Southern Utah's next drive, Ford caught a tipped pass and took it back for a score to give the Griz their first lead and pumped energy into Washington-Grizzly Stadium after a stagnant start.
STAT OF THE GAME: Penalties. The Grizzlies were whistled for 12 penalties for 125 yards in a game that felt like a whistle was blown every other play. Southern Utah finished with just three penalties accepted against them for just 20 yards in comparison.
GAME BALLS: Griz defense. After the Grizzlies went up 20-19 with 11:38 left, Patrick O'Connell came up with a big sack while being held to force a Thunderbird punt. On the ensuing drive, Brown threw his lone interception, and the Grizzlies responded and forced a turnover on downs. After Montana's next drive ended with a Junior Bergen fumble, the Griz defense held firm as Southern Utah drove to the UM 18, and Welnel blocked the potential game-winning field goal to give Montana back the ball for good.
WHAT'S NEXT: Montana hits the road to Northern Colorado next weekend.