MISSOULA — Marcus Knight scored three rushing touchdowns, the Montana defense intercepted three passes and the Grizzlies defeated North Alabama 61-17 on Saturday night at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
UM used a dominant third quarter, outscoring the Lions 24-0 in the stanza, overcoming a 17-16 halftime deficit on its way to victory.
Knight scored on runs of 2, 1 and 24 yards, tallying 89 rushing yards on the night. Quarterback Dalton Sneed was 24-of-38 passing for 269 yards, throwing one touchdown pass to tight end Matt Rensvold. He also scored on a QB-keeper early in the second quarter.
TURNING POINT: The third quarter. From the opening drive, which resulted in Knight’s second score of the game, to the final snap, which saw the Grizzlies driving toward the red zone, Montana dominated the entire 15 minutes. UM had two interceptions in the quarter, and nearly a third, as the Grizzlies blew the game open. Montana racked up 192 total yards of offense in the quarter, with Sneed completing 10 of 12 passes.
STAT OF THE GAME: Three interceptions. Montana’s defense, despite giving up touchdown passes of 64 and 75 yards in the first half, made key plays at pivotal moments in the game. Robbie Hauck intercepted Christian Lopez in the end zone on the Lions’ first drive, while safety Gavin Robertson and defensive end Alex Gubner added picks in the third quarter to give Montana’s offense the ball during the blowout period.
GAME BALLS: Knight and Jerry Louie-McGee. Montana badly wants to be a running team on offense to give Sneed and receivers like Samuel Akem and Samari Toure breathing room in the passing game. Knight was patient and showcased a hard-nosed running style, particularly on the 24-yard touchdown run that saw him break away from Lion defenders. Louie-McGee finished with 150 return yards and a 74-yard punt return touchdown, the third of his career. He also led Montana with seven receptions for 78 yards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Montana (2-0) travels west to Eugene, Ore. to face the No. 16 Oregon Ducks (1-1) at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14. The two teams have met eight times, the last in 2005, with Montana trailing in the series 0-7-1. The Grizzlies and Ducks were members of the Pacific Coast Conference from 1924-1950. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. (PDT) on Pac-12 Networks. North Alabama (1-1) will host Alabama A&M next Saturday.