Griz cruise at Portland State to set up massive stakes in the Brawl
(Montana Sports Information) For the second straight week Montana allowed its opponent to score first, but just like last week's top 10 win over Sacramento State that was about all the Grizzlies gave up in Portland. Montana dominated Portland State 34-10 for its sixth straight win.
It moves Montana to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play. It also makes next week's Brawl of the Wild the de facto Big Sky Championship game as Montana State enters with a matching record. Idaho lost to Weber State earlier on Saturday, leaving the two rivals alone together at the top.
After the Vikings started the game with a field goal on the opening drive, Montana would go on to score 34 unanswered points with a big first half offensively. The Grizzlies outgained the Vikings 489-255 in the game.
It's the second-most yards in a game this season for Montana and brings them over 1,000 total yards in the last two games, both dominant wins. The last three games have all been blowout victories as Montana have outgained their previous three opponents by 874 total yards (291.3 per game).
"It's always a scary week with the rivalry coming next and lots of stuff that's not just the game that people our talking about," head coach Bobby Hauck said. "Our guys are pretty mature but they hear all of it and you worry about the focus and you worry about the performance. Our guys came out and performed so I was really pleased for them."
The balance that they've displayed down the stretch of the season continued on Saturday. The Grizzlies had 258 yards through the air and 231 on the ground with good performances from countless individuals.
Clifton McDowell ran for three touchdowns and had 199 total yards with a 64 percent completion rate, Keali'I Ah Yat threw for 131 yards, Eli Gillman nearly hit the century mark for the third straight game, and a quartet of receivers all finished with at least 40 yards.
"We made some plays. We were running it successfully and when things broke down Clifton made some plays with his feet," Hauck said. "When he threw it, we caught it. It was far from perfect but (Portland State) do a good job, (Coach Barnum) does a great job. They are always prepared and their X's and O's our good so they make you earn it and our guys went out and earned it to take the win."
The defense had 21 different players record a tackle. Anaconda native Braxton Hill once again led Montana with seven tackles. Ryan Tirrell had five and Riley Wilson had four tackles with two sacks. Outside of one big 64-yard touchdown pass, the Grizzly defense didn't allow the Vikings much on the offensive side.
One of the best rushing attacks in the country was held under 100 yards as the Grizzlies outgained the Vikings on the ground by 138 yards.
"With the style they want to play right now if we can outgain them like that in the run game then we are going to beat them barring some unforeseen disaster," Hauck said. "It was good."
The Vikings are one of the best third-down offenses in the country, but Montana held them to just four third down conversions. The Griz forced six punts on eight Vikings drives as possessions were few and far between with long drives on both sides.
The Grizzlies scored on six of their first seven drives and averaged 51 yards per possession. It led to a nearly 10-minute advantage in time of possession despite running often and trying to shorten the game. In nearly every category, Montana looked the superior team on Saturday night in Portland.
"It was a very mature effort by our guys. It's very much a trap game and the maturity showed in this game and the week's prep. I felt good about it just because of the preparation and the maturity our guys showed. We talked about it in the locker room, the way we win is when we're focused on our assignment and executing the play calls and doing our part."