MISSOULA — No. 16 Montana needed a win in the worst way, and the Grizzlies didn’t waver on a snowy Saturday night.
UM put an emphatic halt to its three-game losing streak with a 57-0 victory over Cal Poly at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Quarterback Lucas Johnson returned to the lineup and guided a Griz offense that put up a whopping 695 total yards.
Johnson missed the past game and a half with a head injury but returned with a strong outing, throwing for 262 yard and three TDs. But running back Nick Ostmo was the unquestioned workhorse, and he rushed for 221 yards and a pair of scores.
Defensively, the Grizzlies limited the Mustangs to 192 yards and an average of just 1.6 yards per rush.
With the win, Montana is now 6-3 overall and evened its record at 3-3 in the Big Sky. Cal Poly, under head coach Beau Baldwin, dropped to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in the league.
Turning point: It’s hard to pinpoint a moment where a blowout swings, but Montana made clear on its first drive how this game was going to turn out.
Johnson rushed for 24 yards on the Grizzlies’ first offensive play, and later hit Keelan White with a 36-yard pass to set up the game’s first TD. That was followed by an interception by Griz linebacker Marcus Welnel, which set up another touchdown, and Montana was off to the races.
Stat of the game: The Grizzlies had just 10 first downs on offense last week in a loss at Weber State, but it was a much different story on Saturday: Montana finished with a school-record 37 first downs against Cal Poly.
Grizzly game balls: RB Nick Ostmo (offense). Montana re-established its running game and Ostmo was at the center of it. Ostmo carried the ball 26 times for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns in what was a career night. The Griz had 412 yards on the ground as a team.
LB Marcus Welnel (defense). Welnel’s early interception helped the Griz build a two-score lead, but the Helena Capital grad also had five tackles, 1½ tackles for loss and a sack.
PR Junior Bergen (special teams). Bergen, a consummate threat, returned two punts for 26 yards (an average of 23 per return) with a long of 37.
What’s next: Montana is back at home next week when it welcomes longtime Big Sky rival Eastern Washington to Washington-Grizzly Stadium. It is the second-to-last game of the regular season for UM, which finishes the schedule the following week in Bozeman with the 121st meeting against Montana State.