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Wayne Nelson / Forum Communications Co., Published November 14 2010

College football: Montana too much for Sioux

MISSOULA, Mont. – The University of North Dakota’s search for a permanent football home ended two weeks ago when the Sioux landed in the Big Sky Conference. But Big Sky power Montana had no intention of throwing the Sioux a welcome-to-the-neighborhood party Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Instead, the Grizzlies treated the Sioux much like they treat everyone in the Big Sky – rudely.

Montana, backed by a boisterous crowd of 24,151 fans, capitalized on a handful of big plays against a scrappy Sioux defense to beat UND 27-17 – a win that keeps the 7-3 Grizzlies in the hunt for an 18th straight trip to the Division I FCS playoffs.

The Sioux had hoped to ruin Montana’s playoff chances in addition to picking up the marquee win of their Division I era. The search goes on. But the end may be in sight.

“The one thing that’s been consistent with us has been our effort,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “I knew we wouldn’t be intimidated coming into this environment. Our kids gave us great effort for four quarters.”

But the things that have plagued UND all season continued on a cool, overcast day in the Rocky Mountains.

A UND turnover led to one Montana touchdown. And a couple of costly penalties slowed a Sioux offense that struggled all day to find a rhythm.

“I may be crazy for saying this, but I still look out there and see that when we play to our capablities we can be pretty good,” Mussman said.

UND trailed 13-0 in the second quarter behind Justin Roper’s 58-yard scoring pass to Antwon Moutra and Chase Reynolds’ 12-yard run, coming on a UND turnover at the Sioux 15. Brent Goska’s toss to Josh Murray in the backfield was ruled a lateral, and Brandon Dodson alertly fell on the ball to set up the score.

But the Sioux scored the next 17 points for a four-point lead early in the third quarter.

Dominique Hawkins’ 99-yard kickoff return set up Mitch Sutton’s 1-yard scoring run; Ty Boyle’s interception led to a 29-yard field goal by Zeb Miller and Sutton’s 50-yard run early in the third gave the Sioux a 17-13 advantage.

Suddenly, Montana’s sense of urgency was magnified.

“(UND) showed up; they played well,” said Reynolds, who rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns. “They’re a good team and I think they’ll have a chance.”

But the game turned immediately after Sutton’s long run. And it was Reynolds who made the difference.

Reynolds, taking a pitch from quarterback Justin Roper, cut back against the flow and gained 51 yards to the Sioux 14. Two plays later, Reynolds scored from 14 yards – sailing over a Sioux defender at the goal line.

The Griz faithful were back into the game and Montana regained the momentum. Reynolds closed out the scoring with a 4-yard run with 5 minutes, 21 seconds to play.

That score was set up by Roper’s 55-yard pass to Jabin Sambrano.

“We come out after halftime, score and take the lead,” Mussman said. “All of a sudden, we give it back. It’s been a frustrating thing for us this season.”

North Dakota 0 10 7 0 – 17

Montana 7 6 7 7 – 27

First Quarter

Mont – Moutra 58 pass from Roper (McKnight kick), :03.

Second Quarter

Mont – C. Reynolds 12 run (run failed), 12:28.

UND – Sutton 1 run (Z. Miller kick), 12:10.

UND – FG Z. Miller 29, :00.

Third Quarter

UND – Sutton 50 run (Z.Miller kick), 11:05.

Mont – C. Reynolds 14 run (McKnight kick), 9:49.

Fourth Quarter

Mont – C. Reynolds 4 run (McKnight kick), 5:21.

A – 24,151.

UND Mont

First downs 13 15

Rushes-yards 45-153 45-190

Passing 56 231

Comp-Att-Int 9-30-0 14-23-1

Return Yards 25 35

Punts-Avg. 12-38.2 10-39.0

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 3-25 10-85

Time of Possession 30:42 29:18

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: North Dakota, Sutton 12-76, M.Hendrickson 14-28, Murray 14-23, Hardin 2-11, Goska 2-10, J.Miller 1-5. Montana, C.Reynolds 27-173, Kemp 9-50, T.Johnson 1-(minus 2), Team 2-(minus 3), Roper 6-(minus 28).

PASSING: North Dakota, M.Hendrickson 6-23-0-29, Goska 3-7-0-27. Montana, Roper 14-22-1-231, Kemp 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING: North Dakota, Murray 3-24, McGill 3-15, Solum 2-15, Hardin 1-2. Montana, Sambrano 4-76, C.Reynolds 4-39, Moutra 3-100, Hardy 1-6, Middleton 1-6, Atkins 1-4.


Wayne Nelson writes for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.