In a comeback for the ages, Griz rally to beat Southeast Missouri
The Montana Grizzlies pulled off one of the most improbable and historic comebacks in program history Saturday night, rallying from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to score 31 unanswered points, defeating Southeast Missouri 34-24 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
With the Griz trailing 17-3 at halftime, head coach Bobby Hauck harkened back to his 2009 squad that rallied to score 47 second-half points to beat South Dakota State in the playoffs nearly 13 years ago to the day.
And like in that 2009 game, Montana's special teams provided the spark, with Malik Flowers doing his best Marc Mariani impression and igniting the comeback with an 80-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
The halftime speech worked, and from there, the Griz rattled off three more offensive scores and added another special teams touchdown to defeat the Redhawks and keep the postseason run alive.
Montana will now travel to Fargo to take on the third-ranked and defending national champion North Dakota State Bison on Dec. 3.
"Guts are not in short supply with that bunch, man. They've got a lot of guts, they've got a lot of heart, courage, and they're tougher than nails," said Hauck.
"We were holding the rope as tight as we could, trying not to let it get out of our grasp there in the first half and early in the second half. We were just fighting to stay in the game. Then all of a sudden it took a turn, and we were rolling, and it was a lot of fun in here."
While the comeback will live in the memory of Griz fans for decades to come, it was also a historic night at Washington-Grizzly Stadium for two other reasons.
With his third-quarter kickoff return for a touchdown, senior Malik Flowers cemented his name among the best returners of all time. Now with seven to his name, Flowers tied the FCS record for the most ever by a single player.
Senior safety Robby Hauck stamped his name in the record books as well, becoming the all-time leading tackler in Big Sky Conference history. Hauck posted 15 stops against the Redhawks to bring his career total to 474 tackles, one better than Ronnie Hamlin of EWU's career total of 473.
With the new record-holders and quarterback Lucas Johnson surrounding him at the postgame press conference, Hauck once again saluted his team's bounce-back.
"Congratulations to our team on a really fine comeback effort. There was a lot of fight. It was a heck of a job," Hauck added.