What snow? Griz bury Delaware, head to quarterfinals
(Montana Sports Information) Montana felt right at home in a winter storm on Saturday night inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium, blowing out No. 11 Delaware 49-19 in the Second Round of the FCS Playoffs.
The Griz led by as many as 37 points on a snow-covered field and improved to 11-1 with their eighth straight win.
The Grizzlies advance to the quarterfinals to play No. 7 Furman in Missoula next week. It’s Montana’s third trip to the quarterfinals in the previous four fall seasons, but the first time that they will host. The Griz are seeking their first semifinal appearance since 2009.
Montana improved to 33-7 inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium in postseason history. The 49 points are a season high for Montana, who won by 30-plus points for the fourth time this season.
“It was a really good night by our guys, offense, defense, kicking,” head coach Bobby Hauck said. “It was good.”
It was another balanced effort from Montana, who had big plays on defense and special teams to go along with an offense that had nearly identical rushing and passing statistics. Clifton McDowell passed for two scores and three different players found the end zone on the ground. The defense pitched in a scoop-and-score as well to go along with a blocked punt early in a complete performance.
The Grizzlies outgained Delaware 389-347 in the game, doing their most damage in a 25-point second quarter. The Blue Hens ran 78 plays to Montana’s 57, as the Grizzlies averaged over two more yards per play.
Clifton McDowell wasn’t bothered by the heavy snow, throwing for 186 yards and the two touchdowns. Keelan White caught four passes for 88 yards and a score, while tight end Evan Shafer had the second receiving touchdown.
Montana’s ground game ran for 200-plus yards for the fifth straight game, and did so with a quartet of runners. Nick Ostmo led the way with 10 carries, 64 yards, and a touchdown. McDowell added 51 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Eli Gillman ran 13 times for 42 yards, while Xavier Harris had a 27-yard score and 36 total yards.
“It was a good blend of play call variety in the run game and then we hit some passes,” Hauck said. “We hurt them in pressure. Clifton had some nice passes under pressure. Brent had them dialed up. We were going to protect it and try to win on the outside and we did that.”
The Grizzly defense held Delaware to a 2-for-14 start on third down, and turned them over on downs four times. They also had a fumble returned for a touchdown by Jaxon Lee and an interception from Corbin Walker.
The Grizzlies now advance to a 2001 National Championship rematch against Furman. The game time has not been finalized yet. Montana is now 7-0 at home this season and winners of 10 straight in Missoula dating back to 2022.
“We haven’t looked at Furman, but I brought it up with the team that the last time we played was the National Championship and it should be a heck of a test,” Hauck said. “We’re excited to get into the office and start looking at them tomorrow morning. Our players will take the day off to get freshened up and will be excited to get going on them Monday. We need to sell this bad boy out next weekend and get rolling.”